How to Hack Procrastination

Updated: Jun 13, 2019


Hump Day Hacks are for everyone: those of you who love going to work everyday, some days, or hardly ever; those interested in building cultures of appreciation, innovation and purpose; and those who want to create better conditions in all aspects of life (you can use these tips at home or at family gatherings too).

Hump Day Hacks come from the fields of positive psychology, design thinking and coaching. It's not just stuff I make up!

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How to Hack Procrastination

I've written about procrastination before on my blog. The research behind this phenomenon shows that it is a voluntary action used to avoid negative emotions. Humans prefer comfortable states, so we use procrastination to delay negative experiences. When a task seems difficult, scary, boring, sad, painful or overwhelming, we procrastinate. "I'll feel more like it tomorrow", you say. Unfortunately, the task still seems difficult, scary, boring or so on tomorrow.

Yet, despite knowing this, I still procrastinate sometimes.

I'm currently putting off logging my coaching hours (overwhelming), updating my accounting spreadsheet (boring) and bringing my terra cotta pots in for the winter (difficult).

I'll bet everyone procrastinates to some degree- even productivity gurus. But when it gets in the way of your important life goals (or even just the things you must do), you need new approaches or strategies to get around this tendency.

Whatever you are procrastinating on, this Hump Day Hack can help you get from intention to outcome.

The Five Minute Trial

I've shared some other useful procrastination hacks here. The Five Minute Trial is definitely the strategy that works best for me. Many thanks to my teachers in Applied Positive Psychology, Emiliya and Greg, for teaching me this trick.

It's very simple. Here's how it goes:

I really didn't want to go to Pilates on Friday. Despite the threat of a significant late cancellation charge, I was dreading the class enough that I was willing to pay it.

So I told myself this: Just go for five minutes and if you don't want to stay, you can leave.

That is the formula. It's simple and it works. Just fill in the blanks with any activity you've been putting off.

I'll just (the activity) for 5 minutes and then if I want to stop, I can.

I've also heard this works well as a seven minute trial. Whether it's five or seven minutes, I think it works because it's just long enough for your brain to realize the dreaded task is not as bad as anticipated.


What do you think of this hack?

What tricks do you use to combat procrastination?

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