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Overcome Procrastination from Dread

What’s at the root of procrastination for you? If you know the cause, you can find a solution that works best. 9 causes easily come to mind.


1.     The activity seems difficult

2.     Other activities seem more urgent

3.     Other activities are more fun and fulfilling

4.     The activity seems boring or a waste of time

5.     You are physically or emotionally tired

6.     You have too much you have to do

7.     Your mind wanders or gets easily distracted

8.     You’re so comfortable that you don’t feel you need to prove yourself

9.     You have so many interests it’s hard to complete any



Today let’s explore how to overcome procrastination when dread or fear keeps you from getting started on a project. Or maybe you get started but then get to the tough part and get frozen.

 Anxiety is about anticipation, once you dive in anxiety often goes down according to research cited by Ameila Aldao Ph.D.

Below are nine ideas to help you get started. The first tips below come from Greg McKeown’s wonderful book Effortless.


What step are you thinking about? Step 1, step 10, the outcome? Keep working your way backwards until you figure out the very first thing you need to do. The very first thing often is easy.


Block time to get started and clearly define what you want to do in this 30 minutes, 60 minutes, etc. If the entire project will take several hours, what can you realistically accomplish in these 30 minutes? This is not a skill most people have. The more you estimate how long things will take and compare reality, the better you’ll become at it.


What time of day are you most creative/strategic/energetic? Schedule your time block then.


Create a zero draft, just get something started with the expectation that it will need massive revisions. It’s much easier to edit and it keeps the perfectionist at bay.


For the zero draft consider what approach comes most easily to you. Do you want to write it? Mind map it? Dictate it? Make notes as you are moving (walking, exercising, dancing, pacing, etc.)


For example, say you’ve got research to complete, and you don’t know where to start. You block from 9 to 9:30am to create a zero draft that answers these questions, dictating them into your phone as you pace around your house, clean the kitchen, or brainstorm with a colleague.

-       Do you know what you’re hoping to accomplish?

-       What types of data do you need to accomplish it?

-       What data sources would be reputable enough?

-       Who or what could be resources for helping you find this?


Set a timer for 10 minutes and force yourself to work until it goes off. After 10 minutes give yourself the option of stopping, setting the timer for 10 more minutes, or just keep going.


Try B.J. Fogg’s celebration burst for 5 minutes. Chose something simple you want to do like clean your desk or dishes, balance your checkbook. Every time one thing is cleaned, put away, throw away, filed, or one transaction is recorded or marked complete do a little celebration! This could be a little dance, a high five, a “yes!”, whatever brings a smile to your face. The goal is to have a little celebration a few times a minute so by the end of 5 minutes you’re so energized you’re ready to tackle that project.


Turn on music to support you as you work.


Schedule a work date with a friend or colleague where you meet in a conference room, coffee shop, or zoom and work together.


As you can see there are a lot of ways of considering how to overcome the dread associated with challenging projects! Experiment and see what works for you.


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