The “Nag Me!” column is here, and to start things off is a great question from Michelle Shaeffer, an Entrepreneur and Blogger, Alaska.

Michelle asks, “What are the fastest ways to kill procrastination and get focused?”


I’m going to address the wording of your question first. Notice how semantics may be playing a role in dampening your ability to optimize your productivity. Next I outline an approach you can use to help focus your mind and attention on a desired task. Lastly, I offer a few Nag tactics to stay on task even when emotions (or facebook/twitter) threaten to steal you away from your goals.

You asked how to kill procrastination. The Nag always professes a non-violent approach to resistance and challenges – here’s why:
 If you are trying to kill something, like procrastination, you’re fighting against it. When you fight, you’re focus is on the battle. Similarly “rising above, overcoming, and pushing through” all require you to waste your precious energy on the undesirable problem when you could be using it on your desired outcome.
What do you do instead:

    1. Place your attention on a specific desired outcome
    2. Frame your desired outcome into an if/then question
    3. Answer the question
    4. Employ one of the best techniques to insure your success

1. Place your attention on a specific desired outcome:
When you do this you activate your brain to work with you. Deliberately setting a clear intention creates a kind of tension you are hard wired to want to resolve. This is you leaning into your nature instead of fighting against your challenges.

Let’s imagine your specific desired outcome is to have a new blog post up on your site by 3 o’clock today.

2. Frame your desired outcome into an if/then question:
Ask to yourself, “If I want to have a new post up on my site by 3 o’clock PM today then I will need to…..”

3. …Answer the question:

Which might look like this…
    •I will have to finish writing the post by noon
    •I’ll want to send it to my editor
    •I will need to write a headline for the post
    •I’ll need to put it into my website editor…
…And so on.

If you’re still feeling a bit of resistance to work, or you want to make the job really easy to do, keep asking questions.
Ask, “How will I do that?”

For “I will have to finish writing the post by noon” you might answer
    •I will do a 15 min Write or Die session (a most unfortunate name given my earlier statement on non-violence, but it is a great tool)

    •I will clean up my Write or Die session
    •I will insert supporting information and links…
…and so on.

What you want to end up with is a recipe. A guide you’ll use to achieve your desired outcome. This might seem like a lot to go through to write a post. I say bah. The time most of us use to avoid reaching for the gold eats many more hours than this ever will.

If you are STILL finding it hard to focus and are resisting taking action, I got your back. You have half the strategy in place, now you want to insure that you’ll follow through.

You want to…
4. …Employ one of the best techniques to insure your success

One of the very best and easiest techniques I know to move forward on a goal is to become accountable. Decide what your very first task is, then commit to another person what you are going to do. You can do this on my Accountability Chat, by joining any one of my recently formed Accountability Tribes (for Bloggers, Academic Writing and Authors and Writers) for free, hire me, or simply text a friend. I call this style of accountability “bookending.” Here’s what a bookend looks like:
•decide on the task
•commit to someone the task you’re going to do
•do the task as soon as you’ve made the commitment
•report that the task is done
•rinse and repeat 

If this sounds silly, don’t balk until you give it a try. How many hundreds of undone tasks and goals do you wish you could get at? It’s not silly if it’s effective.

What advice do you have to add to this?


Besides me – what’s nagging you?