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The Science of Increasing Productivity: How to Put Off Procrastination

Welcome back. Procrastination is a big problem for most people. It can get in the way of moving forward in one's career or in one's life. Fortunately, I've come up with a simple method for overcoming procrastination. I call it the 5-minute miracle.

I originally created the 5-minute miracle idea when I had hit a wall with writing a book. Day after day, I couldn't get myself to sit down to write because I had previously faced writer's block. Although I had a publisher for my next book, my procrastination was endangering my writing career. In desperation, I finally made a vow to myself. I decided I would sit down to write everyday for a minimum of five minutes. After five minutes, if I didn't feel like writing anymore, I'd quit for the day and do whatever I wanted. But if I wanted to write for more, I was welcome to do that too.

I honestly didn't think my idea would work. After all, what good would it do to write for five lousy minutes? But in the absence of a better idea, I tried it. Some days I would simply write five minutes of crap, then turn off my computer in disgust and go about my day. Yet, more often than not, as I began writing, I would get into it. In fact, some days, my mandatory five-minute writing sessions turned into five-hour marathons. Before I knew it, my book was done—and I had a whole new approach to overcoming procrastination. I learned that if I just got myself to do something for five minutes, it was often enough to get me over the hump of initial resistance and into productive action.

So, What is something you're procrastinating on? Perhaps it has something to do with your finances. Or maybe it's having a difficult conversation with someone, or beginning an exercise program. Whatever it is, procrastination can slowly eat away at your ability to be productive and happy with your life.

So right now, sit up straight in your chair, take a deep breath, and then let it out with a long, slow sigh.


To help you over your procrastination, I'd like you to think of some project or task that you've been procrastinating on. It might be cleaning your files, or perhaps starting a big project. Whatever it is, before tomorrow's session, vow to tackle this task for at least five minutes. You're welcome to spend more time on it, but your job is to do just five minutes. When you split an undesirable task into bite-sized bits, it makes it much easier to do _and much more likely that you won't put it off. By beginning to tackle this task you've been avoiding, you'll be overcoming the biggest hurdle to having it handled. If you want to _stop after 5 minutes of doing this task, you've been putting off, no problem. If, on the other hand, you want to continue, feel free to do so. I think you'll find this simple method of overcoming your initial resistance to be a truly effective way to overcome procrastination.

Procrastination is a hidden enemy that can zap your productivity and your sense of accomplishment. By being willing to do a task for just five minutes, you'll soon find you can conquer the hill of procrastination and instead feel the winds of grace at your back. So decide right now what is something you've been procrastinating, and vow to spend at least 5 minutes on it before our next session. If you have time, you can even begin that task right now…

For our next lesson, I'm going to discuss how to make a quantum leap in the results you achieve at work.

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Written by

Jonathan Robinson