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Time to Get Off Your “Buts”

The following post is from Lisa of Working Naked:

source: Michael Mol

For the past few weeks, I’ve put off finishing a seminar that’s scheduled for next month. I know the material, and I know what I want to say, but putting the information into a PowerPoint hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list.

A few days ago, I realized that enough was enough. I was tired of thinking about the presentation first thing each morning and last thing before I went to bed, so I set aside the entire afternoon to finalize it.

While I had to answer some important e-mails and return a few calls in the morning, I was proud of myself for staying focused and finishing my presentation by dinnertime.

Getting started on a task or a big project is difficult, especially when you really don’t want to handle it. It’s easier to make excuses and avoid taking the first step.

If you find yourself procrastinating on an important project, use one of these five methods to help you get started:


The old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” is still true. Break your project into smaller tasks, and the entire project will seem more manageable. When I wrote my first book, I had an idea of how I wanted the finished product to look, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. I called a friend who had written four books, and she gave me several suggestions such as starting with an outline.


Promise yourself that you’ll work on a project for ten minutes and then quit if you’re tired or bored. Chances are that at least 30 minutes will go by and you’ll have made progress. All you need is a simple egg timer or the alarm on your smart phone.

Best For Last

This is a slight form of a reward system. Handle a few tasks first, and as a reward, handle the easiest task or the one you want to do the most last. It’s similar to eating the stuff that’s good for you, first, and then digging into the dessert (something I haven’t quite mastered).

Game Playing

Challenge yourself to handle one task in less than half an hour. Then move on to another task and shorten the amount of time you give yourself. Make it a game to see how quickly you can tackle the tasks you’ve been putting off. Games can make projects a bit more interesting.

Public Announcement

Tell others about your plans (if you’re brave enough). When you commit to doing something that everyone knows about, you’re less likely to fail. Not only do you have to face yourself, you have to face others, including your friends. Friends can be brutally honest.

Starting a project is never easy, especially if you dread handling it. But consider this: if you count the number of hours you spend worrying about a project, you probably could finish it or at least make some progress on it in that same amount of time.

How do you tackle projects? Please share your comments below.

Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of and the author of five books about working from home. Lisa works with entrepreneurs and home-based employees through seminars and individual consultations, to create functional home offices that meet each individual’s working style.