5 Strategies to Stop Procrastinating

What are you procrastinating about right now?  A brief you need to write?  An outline you need to prepare?  A difficult conversation you need to have with someone in your life?  Starting an exercise program?  For me, the thought of having to sift through this mish mash of random notes, research I need to read, and articles I need to file sitting on my desk has me stopped in my tracks.  In addition, I’ve been talking about writing a book for, oh, well over a year now, and it has yet to really be started.

Procrastination might feel like a nice little security blanket in the moment, as you convince your brain that you don’t really need to start whatever it is that you’re putting off, but procrastination leads to stress, panic, and a whole host of unwanted emotions that don’t serve any purpose other than to make us feel like crud.  Whatever it is you’re procrastinating about, stop right now and follow these tips:

1.  Just start.  Action is the enemy of procrastination.  Block off ten minutes today to start organizing your office.  Even if it means that you only file five pieces of paper, it’s a start.  Build on that by blocking off another ten minutes tomorrow.  Before you know it, you’ll be done.

2.  Create small chunks.  When you’re faced with a large task, the sheer enormity of the project can overwhelm you and stop you before you even start.  Break up the large task into smaller, more manageable chunks.  If you’re preparing for a large trial, what is the first thing that you need to accomplish today?  What’s the next task?  Then what? 

3.  Ask for help.  I finally hired a writing coach to help me through the process of writing a book.  Particularly with new tasks, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.  As I discovered, writing a book involves much more than putting words on a page.  There’s researching other books, developing a plan to market your book, figuring out chapter structure, and much more.  Reaching out for help can create windows of opportunity for action that you didn’t even know existed.   

4.  Tell other people what you’re doing.  Ask your assistant to tickle a weekly reminder to check in on your progress.  Tell your significant other that you plan to clean the closets this weekend.  Knowing that another person is watching can be motivation in itself.

5.  Reward yourself.  Whether you staring down a messy kitchen or closing a deal tomorrow, when you finish, reward yourself.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant.  Whenever I finished a tough deal, I treated myself – sometimes it was walking to get a cup of coffee, other times, it was sneaking out an hour early if I could.  Not only will the reward give you motivation to continue with other projects, but the few minutes of rejuvenation will provide you with some much needed stress relief.

Let me know how these tips work for you.  Meanwhile, I’m off to start tackling that stack of papers.



These are great tips, particularly the one about just getting started. I find that once I start something, even if I only bargain with myself to do it for 10 minutes, I’m much more likely to continue. Momentum!
But I think it’s useful to consider the root cause of procrastination, particularly in law school. For me, fundamentally it was that I didn’t want to do what I was supposed to be doing a lot of the time! I talk more about it here:
Good luck with your book!

Write a comment

Please login to comment

Remember Me

Become a Member

FREE online community for women in the legal profession.



Subscribe to receive regular updates, news, and events from Ms. JD.

Connect with us

Follow or subscribe