Procrastination is painful. Perhaps you're having problems getting started on a new project -- or mid-way through something and hit a snag - or find yourself otherwise stuck. Maybe you’re just having one of ‘those’ days and can’t quite get yourself going. Whatever the circumstances, here are seven proven ways to cease procrastinating, to get unstuck and to get started. Try one – or all – of these tips the next time you're stuck or stalled.

1. Use logic. Convince yourself.

Write a list, as fast as you can: “At Least Ten Reasons Why I Should Start”. Typically, this is enough of a nudge to get unstuck and overcome procrastination.

Bonus: if you write down your most motivating reasons, you can review it daily and/or whenever you need a boost to get going. Gather together inspirational reminders to make getting started easy for you.

2. Pick the best time to start.

Follow your natural body rhythms to optimize your chances. If you’re a morning person, then it’s best to start first thing. If you’re a night owl, getting started is easier after dark.

If your project is ongoing, establish a habit of tackling it regularly, during your best, most productive times.

3. Reduce distractions.

Take a moment to list all the things you know interfere with getting started…or with making progress...or the things that are keeping you stuck. The goal here is to identify those things that are contributing to your procrastination -- and to reduce or eliminate them. What interrupts your flow? (The telephone? The kids? Your email inbox? The siren call of the internet? The laundry? Your noisy neighbors? Thoughts about other projects?)

For each, ask yourself how you could combat this distraction? For example, if you keep getting distracted by web surfing, you could disconnect your internet connection during your focused work time. Devise solutions to overcome the distractions to which you’re most susceptible.

4. Promise yourself a reward.

Give yourself a gift for getting unstuck and getting started. A special meal, a nap, a walk, a fun outing – whatever would be real treat for you today.

Here’s the tricky bit: you MUST actually reward yourself for overcoming your procrastination.

5. Prepare yourself mentally.

When you find yourself stuck or procrastinating, take a moment to clear your mind. Close your eyes and think of nothing for five minutes. Now think of what you want to do and why. Why is it important to you? Spend a few minutes reminding yourself of why you’re doing this. Assuming it’s still important to you, resolve to do it.

Now open your eyes and go do it.

6. Make a public commitment to start.

You could phone or text a creative buddy. You could email a friend or post a notice on your Facebook wall or send a tweet via Twitter. Whatever your preferred means of communication, the idea is to announce your intention to do something. Then do it. Then report on your progress. Public pressure is a great way to get unstuck, to overcome procrastination and to get started.

For example, creativity guru Julia Cameron makes it a practice to phone a creative buddy to say she’s ‘going to the keys’. After she spends some time at the piano, she phones back to say she did what she set out to do. (If her friend’s not there, she leaves a message on her voice mail).

7. Set a timer for ten minutes.

Whatever you get done during that period is ‘enough’. It doesn’t seem like ten minutes would make a difference, but it does. Starting is starting. There's something about a timer that forces most of us to take action now. Ten minutes effort will get the ball rolling – and that’s what we’re after.

Bonus: once you actually start, you’re apt to find that (a) the task doesn’t take nearly as long as you thought and/or (b) you want to keep going after the timer buzzes.


If you’ve tried all these seven steps and you’re still stuck, it’s time to dig deeper. There’s something else going on that you must overcome before you can get started.

Ask yourself: what’s REALLY interfering with my getting started? Why am I stuck? Why am I procrastinating? Why am I not doing this thing I in fact want to do? Identify what’s really going on and address it.

It could be FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of success or anxiety about the future. (Please review my three-part article that explores fear in more depth).

It might be that you are a perfectionist with unreasonably high expectations. (To explore further, please read my two-part article about Perfectionism).

You could be hampered by things in the past. Are you experiencing residual pain, guilt, disappointments or regrets? That ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ feeling? (You may wish to read my article about overcoming your past).

Are you depressed? If your energy is very low and you’re mind is plagued with negative thoughts like ‘what’s the point?, you need support. Call a friend, join an online support group and/or seek professional counseling.

(c) Liisa Kyle, Ph.D.


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Author's Bio: 

Liisa Kyle, Ph.D. is the go-to coach for smart, creative people who want to overcome challenges, get organized, get things done and get more out of life (

Liisa Kyle is also an internationally published writer/editor/photographer as well as author of books including "Seven Step Procrastination-Busting System".

If you are a creative person with too many ideas and too much to do, check out her other helpful articles here: