Five-Minute Procrastination Buster

Understanding Procrastination

Today’s article offers a simple remedy for procrastination. First though, it’s helpful to understand what’s behind procrastination. Master Coach Talane Miedaner contends that you can “procrastinate with purpose” if you let it show you the way forward. Here are six reasons you might be procrastinating, as identified by Talane (and paraphrased by me) along with some potential solutions¹:

  1. You don’t like doing the task. — Delegate what you can; involve others in helping you.

  2. You don’t know how to do it. — Find out what you need such as: time to research, additional information, or some type of training or assistance. It’s even possible that with time things may resolve on their own or that the solution will become evident.

  3. You don’t have the time to do it. — Break out overwhelming jobs into small tasks.

  4. You don’t want to do it. — Check to make sure the goal is really yours. If you still have resistance it could be the strategy and not the goal that needs adjusting.

  5. You feel stuck. — Just start anywhere to begin creating momentum.

  6. You need time to mull things over. — In this case, what presents itself as procrastination might actually be the time that is necessary to collect your thoughts or to get the creative process flowing.

Five Minutes To Start

photo of swiss cheeseRecently, I shared my version of #3 (above) with my client Norah, who is managing several major projects. I was in my 20’s when I dubbed this technique the “Swiss Cheese Approach,” which means poking a hole into a big-block-of-cheese-sized task. If you can picture this, I used to have a yellow Post-It® Note on my wall at work with a bunch of holes punched into it, reminding me to take this approach. Martha, my first boss, got a big kick out of my methods for motivating myself.

Norah and I came up with a spin-off of the Swiss Cheese Approach that we call: Five Minutes To Start. Just as the name indicates, this procrastination buster involves identifying a single action you can take within five minutes to get the ball rolling on any project that seems daunting. As simple as it is, Norah found that she was able to integrate this approach immediately and it is making a difference.

Your five-minute action might be a baby step or a big bold step — as long as it’s a step forward. When using this technique, challenge yourself to pick a significant step. Ask: What would really move this forward? Then, take that step whether or not you feel completely ready. For example, last month while gearing up for a project, I was tempted go my usual route of getting organized first and creating a project plan. Instead, I decided to place a phone call and make an appointment with someone I had hired to help me with the project even though I wasn’t 100% ready. That turned out to be a good move because the momentum accelerated more quickly and the organizational details fell into place on their own. The result is that I was able to complete the project in under three weeks instead of frittering away time getting ready!

What Can You Do In Five Minutes?

Think of something you want to make progress on by the end of this month. What is a five-minute action you will take today to begin moving it forward? Feel free to email me with the step you’re taking as that may create momentum for you as well.

“Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”
— Spanish Proverb

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

¹Talane Miedaner, Coach Yourself To Success, (Chicago, IL, Contemporary Books, 2000), pages 97-102.

© 2011, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to

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