Read this for just 30 seconds


I read an article about the scientific basis of procrastination  (short answer: we do it because it makes us feel better), and how to stop it.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that one of the keys to overcoming procrastination is to get started. According to research, any progress we make can be a big motivator to keep going.

Of course, getting started is often the hardest part. One way to do it, according to the article, is to “make getting started ridiculously easy”.

Here are 5 ways to do that, including one I’ve never heard of:

  1. Organize it. Gather your notes, open a new file, put a date on your calendar, set up a new “project” template, make a list of steps, etc. Any one of these means you’ve started.
  2. Talk to someone about it. Explain the task to a partner, or friend, ask for feedback or suggestions. Talking about it means you’ve started. It also means someone you know will probably ask you “how’s it going”.
  3. The Salami Technique. Carve up the task into tiny slices, things that you can do in a few minutes.
  4. Use a timer. Give yourself five minutes to work on it. You can do a lot in five minutes.
  5. Sit and think about it. According to the author of the article, “I start by just thinking about the task for a while, until I’m drawn in and can’t help working on it.”

The last one sounds intriguing. I imagine that sitting and thinking about something you’ve been avoiding gets you to start it because doing “something” is better than doing nothing.

Will any of these help you complete a task you’ve been avoiding? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure they’ll help you get started.

Procrastinating on marketing? This will help you start


How to overcome procrastination and train your brain to resist distractions


I was watching a video about how to overcome procrastination. The presenter talked about the Pomodoro technique which I sometimes use to help me focus, particularly on tasks I’m avoiding.

Basically, you set a timer for 25 minutes (or whatever you choose) and work until the timer goes off. You then take a break for five minutes and go at it again. If you’re still not done after three or four sessions, you take a longer break and then get back to work.

The idea is to get ourselves to focus with the promise that we only have to do it for a short period of time. It gets you started, which is the hardest and most important part of getting anything done.

Anyway, if you ever find yourself procrastinating on certain tasks, get yourself a Pomodoro app or use your kitchen timer and give it a whirl.

But here’s the thing.

Even though you have promised yourself to keep working until the timer sounds, if you’re like most people, you will be tempted to stray. You’ll feel the urge to check your email or take a peak at social media. Or you’ll realize you need another cup of coffee. Or the phone will ring and you’ll feel compelled to at least see who is calling.

You know you must resist these urges but sometimes they get the better of you.

The video presented a simple technique for conquering these urges and resisting distractions. Have a sheet of paper handy, or open a text file, and whenever you feel tempted by the urge to do something else, write it down.

Writing it down allows you to acknowledge the urge and postpone it until your next break. It helps to dissipate the urge and release its hold over you.

It also allows you to identify things that typically distract you. You can then take steps to eliminate them before they can distract you by doing things like turning off your phone or closing browser tabs that don’t relate to your work.

Write down (and postpone) your urges and you will become their master instead of their servant.


How to start your writing project (finally)


I want to help you start your writing project. You know, the one you’ve thinking about for months but haven’t been able to start.

A report, a book, a seminar, some blog posts. Something you can use in your marketing.

Whatever it is, if you’ve been procrastinating on getting started, today is the day you start.

And guess what? Starting is the most important part.

The first thing you need to do is to think about why you’re doing this. What do you hope to accomplish?

Whatever your objective, imagine it already being done.

If you want to write a few blog posts so you can attract new clients online, imagine getting an email or phone call from a prospective client who finds you through your posts. Imagine him telling you they like your site and were impressed by your post. Imagine him asking for an appointment.


As you imagine this happy outcome, you may feel an emotional tug and the urge to start writing. Often, this is all you need to get your pen moving. If not, go for a walk or for a drive and think about this some more. Bring a recorder, in case you get inspired.

Now what?

Now you need a working title. It doesn’t have to be brilliant. You’ll make it better later. Write something simple to describe what your article, post, or paper is about.

“My [article/post/book] is about __________________.”

What if you don’t know what to write about? Try this: think about the questions prospective clients typically ask you about their case or matter. The ones you get over and over again. Choose one of those questions. That question, and your answer, is what your article is about.

Got it? Good.

Now I want you to write down three ideas or points you think you might include in your article or post. This can be a short sentence, a phrase, or a single word.

Do this quickly. Write down the first three things that come to mind.

Why just three things? Because three is easy. If you want to write down more than three, that’s fine.

You’re making progress. You have a working title and three points you want to write about. You’ve started. You may feel like continuing and getting the thing written. If you do, just start typing or dictating or scribbling. Before you know it, you’ll have your first draft.

If you’re still having trouble getting started, choose a date when you’ll have this done and mark it on your calendar. Don’t give yourself too much time. In fact, choose a date that gives you less time than you think you’ll need. Like tomorrow. Or the the first of next week.

Seriously. You can write an article in 30 minutes, a short report or ebook in a weekend.

Finally, if you’re still having trouble getting started, or you’ve started but can’t seem to finish, here’s what I suggest.

Call up a lawyer friend and tell him what you’re writing. Tell him when it will be finished, the actual date, and that you’ll send him a copy. And then ask him to hold you accountable. Tell him you’ve been procrastinating on this and that if you don’t get it done on the specified date, you want him to call you on it.

Accountability is very powerful. It will help you get your writing project started. And finished.

The 30-Day Referral Blitz has lots of ideas for topics and titles. Check it out here.


My trick for getting things done that I don’t want to do


Yesterday, we talked about trusting your gut to choose your most important tasks for the day. But there are always other things we need to do. Small things, unpleasant things, things we may not be excited about, things we strongly dislike.

Want to know my secret for getting things done that I don’t want to do?

I just do them. I don’t think about why I don’t want to do them, or worry about what might happen. I just hold my nose and take the first step. If I have to make a call I don’t want to make, I just start dialing. Before I know it, the call is over.

If you find yourself procrastinating or avoiding something you need to do, just start doing it. Don’t think about it. Don’t write out a plan. Just start.

Okay, easy to say, not always easy to do. Sometimes, you don’t know where to start. Or it’s a big project. Or you need more information.

In that case, I find something I can do now and do that. Even if it’s just writing down an idea of how I might start or what I need to find out. There, I’ve started.

This works most of the time. But not always. I still procrastinate. I might have low energy, I might want to do something else instead, or I might be afraid. When this happens, I tell myself, “Do it anyway.”

  • I don’t have enough time: Do it anyway.
  • I don’t have enough information: Do it anyway.
  • I don’t know what to do: Do it anyway.
  • I don’t know how: Do it anyway.
  • I don’t want to: Do it anyway.

“Do it anyway” is a trigger phrase. I’ve conditioned myself that when I hear those words, I drop shields, get out of my own way, and do it. It’s like a hypnotic command. (No, don’t email me with some crazy idea and tell me to do it anyway. I’ve got to say it to myself.)

It’s close to Nike’s, “Just do it,” but I hear that as a command and I don’t follow orders very well. The word “anyway” acknowledges and validates my resistance. It says, “yes, there are reasons for not doing it but there are more reasons or better reasons for getting it done.”

Sure, it’s a trick. And no, it doesn’t always work. But it works enough of the time, and that’s good enough for me.

The next time you’ve got something on your list you don’t want to do, do it anyway.

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How to do what you want (but can’t)


Years ago, I was at a men’s store buying suits and got to talking with the sales person. He was very good at his job and I told him so. He thanked me and said that what he really wanted to do was be a writer. The problem is, he’s tried to write but can’t.

He’s got an idea for a novel, he’s got his characters, he’s worked out the story in his head, but when he sits down to write, nothing comes.

I made several suggestions, but he’s tried them all. No dice.

He’s tried dictating. He’s tried freewriting (writing whatever comes out without stopping to think or edit). He’s tried every technique for overcoming procrastination and writer’s block but nothing has worked. I got the feeling he was convinced that nothing will.

So he sells men’s clothing.

Today, I would probably say, “Well then, I guess you’re not a writer.”

Don’t hate on me. He needs some tough love. Fight back (and write) or admit that you are not a writer and go do something else. Living in the middle ground, “I want to, but can’t,” is hell. It will kill your soul and leave you, on your death bed, filled with regret.

Frankly, I think the guy needed therapy.

And yet, wanting but not doing is common. We all have things we want to do but don’t. We never start, because we don’t have the time. Or we start, but three weeks later, we’re off the wagon.

If you’ve ever started a diet, you know what I mean.

Want to know how to do what you want to do but can’t? Whatever it is–getting in shape, learning a new language, writing a book, or marketing your law practice, if you want to do it, but don’t, here’s my suggestion:

Do it today for two minutes.

Want to get in shape? Go walking for two minutes today.

Want to write? Get typing or scribbling and don’t stop for two minutes.

Want to bring in new clients? Take two minutes and send a “Hey, how are you these days?” email to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.

It’s just two minutes. You can do two minutes.

Now you’re not going to write a book or get into shape in two minutes. But if you can do two minutes today, you can do two minutes tomorrow. Maybe in a couple of weeks you’ll be up to five minutes. Eventually, the thing you had trouble starting or sticking to will become a habit. What was once hard will be easy.

By starting small, you program your brain that writing or exercising or marketing isn’t hard. It’s something you can do. So you keep doing it.

Most people join the gym on January 1st and push themselves so hard and get so sore that by January 15th, they’re done. Don’t do that. Start small. Develop the habit.

I heard about a guy who has been going to the gym for ten years and is in fabulous shape. Like most people, he had trouble getting started. So, for the first three months, he went to the gym every day, sat on a bench and drank coffee. He said he wanted to develop the habit of going to the gym.

Start slowly. Do something every day. Eventually, you will become an unconscious competent (doing it without thinking about it) and your life will never be the same.


Why you might be procrastinating (and how to stop it)


cure for procrastinationWhen I was a kid in school, I usually waited until the last minute to write papers or study for exams. Actually, there were times when I took the exam without studying at all.

In college, I went through entire courses without reading the text books. I went to the first couple of classes and showed up for the final.

There were times when I paid dearly for these habits. Usually, I did just fine.

Years later, I figured out why I procrastinated. By waiting to the last minute to study or start a paper, I had the perfect excuse in case I didn’t do well.

“Yeah, I got a B, but hey, I didn’t really study.”

Stupid? Yep. But that was my way of coping with being a perfectionist. I couldn’t accept the possibility of getting less than a top grade so I gave myself an excuse in case I didn’t.

As I began my professional life, I hate to admit that I still had the tendency to procrastinate. But while I could get away with this in school, I quickly realized that as an attorney, it was unacceptable to deliver anything less than my best.

Losing cases was difficult for me. I often took it harder than my clients. I never did get used to it. How did I learn to cope with less than perfect results? By not focusing on the results at all, but instead, focusing on the process.

We can’t control the verdict. There are too many factors outside of our control. We can’t promise results. All we can do is put our best efforts into our work.

If you focus on the outcomes in life, you will ride an emotional roller coaster. If you focus on doing your job and giving it your best, you are successful no matter what the outcome.

I am successful today because instead of focusing on perfect results, I focus on making progress. Because I do that consistently, I have a lot of successful outcomes. When my results are less than optimum, I accept it because I wasn’t focused on the outcome, I was focused on my work.

If you are a perfectionist (or otherwise emotionally attached to outcomes), change your focus to the work in front of you. Get busy with “the next step” and do your best. When you’ve done that, focus on the step after that.

And when you’re done with a project, don’t dwell on the results, get started on the first step in the next project.