Please Share Your Best Procrastination/ Anti-Procrastination Techniques

Convener(s): Imogen Butler-Cole

Participants: Tamsin Clarke, Matthew Smallwood, Leyla Asadi, Jannifer Tan, Kelli, Verity Standen, Rose Biggin, Mhairi Grealis, Mary O’Connor, Jamie Jubairi


The Procrastinator’s Support Group will be convening at the Jungle on the Barbican roof on Saturday 3rd March at 4pm. Please try some of the techniques below in the meantime, see how they work for you, report back! If you can’t be there in person we can skype you if you provide me with your email id/ skype id.


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:


  • Transfer a to-do list onto lots of different coloured post-its, written in differently coloured pens. Put them all up on a board (perhaps in a particular configuration depending on importance/ effect on consuquent topics). Then you’ll picj them according to different (aesthetic) priorities. When actioned move onto a separate board to the “done” list is as concrete as the “to do”, not just crossed out words on a list
    • Similar arrangements on desk-top with folders – one side is to do, the other side is done. 


  • Give yourself a line manager – can be yourself or someone else. Fix dates by which you need to report back to them about particular tasks.
    • Or a co-worker/ buddy that you check in with weekly/ daily to see how you’ve been doing.
    • Ask yourself what advice you’d give somebody else
  • Deliniate a space for work – avoid the bedroom if possible or if in the bedroom can you somehow define that space?
  • Make sure you shower/ get dressed/ wear shoes (particular shoes?)/ go for a run/ walk/ stretch before you start work. And NEVER open the computer/ work book until you have done these things
    • Or if not first thing schedule a time for exercise at some point in the day – this can also be used as a reward/ incentive
    • Even just take the stretch you do in bed in the morning a little bit further – do it for just 5 minutes to get your body (and therefore your mind) working
  • Know when your productivity is best and schedule yourself to work within these times/ work to your own rhythm
  • Open Space yourself: ring the bell, check in (how am I feeling, what would I like to achieve) call sessions for yourself, write them up on a schedule board, decide when to attend each
  • “Become masculine” – don’t multi-task, concentrate on one thing only until it’s completely finished


  • 5-10-15 minutes (works best on admin-type tasks): if you have five tasks allot each of them 5 minutes. Set an alarm. After 5 minutes move on to the next task. Do this with all tasks, then go back and spend 10 minutes on each, then 15. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things get done.
    • Or allot half an hour per task. Spread sheet schedule with coloured sections for different tasks?
  • Have allotted “working hats” for each project – the kids show has a kids hat that you wear when you’re working on that project. When you’re going to work on the history play you change to the history hat. Or other appropriate items of clothing.
  • On a mac you can set up different accounts, some without internet access. Create accounts for different projects so you have to log off and go into the other specific work account if you want to work on something else – hence avoiding blurry lines between projects
    • Limit the time you spend online – give yourself allotted hours when you will be online/ will not be online. And let other people that you are responsible to know when these will be.


  • Stop feeling you have made no progress. What is progress? Give yourself small achievable goals and acknowledge when you’ve achieved them.
    • Make a list of small achievements over the day/ week/ year
  • When it all feels overwhelming: Make a list of things you’re grateful for
  • Change the way you speak to yourself, treat yourself with the care you’d treat a child: “this is what I’ve achieved” not “I’m a bit crap, I achieve nothing”
  • If you get overwhelmed take off a day or two – however much time you can possibly allow yourself – and ban yourself from doing anything that begins with the words “I must”. Take play dates. Treat yourself. Walk, swim, bake, buy a hat, do whatever stimulates your idea brain
  • Make a pi-chart of yourself in 7 sections, name each section according to what you are made up of. Balance it
    • Spider-graph: health, money, friends, relationships, work, spirituality as points around the edge. Centre is zero, outside edge is 10, put a dot along the line to show where you are now. Try to balance the spider into a nice circle…


  • Set achievable goals – write 500 words/ day – or whatever works for you – and when you have achieved them allow yourself to recognize this fact. Reward yourself! Take time off before you move on to some other task 


  • Biscuit breaks – don’t have any until you’ve done a specified task
  • Schedule after-work drinks with other freelancers cause you don’t get to go to the pub after work with your colleagues
    • Create any reward system for yourself that works for you!

Texts/ techniques/ writing/ videos on the topic:

  • The Artist’s Way (good self care/ routines/ creativity in everyday life in turn helps stimulate creativity in working practice…etc)
  • TED talks: Happiness in Business (give goals, don’t push them, allow yourself to realize you’ve achieved them); Creativity and the Self) Amy Tan?)
  • Blog called “the fluent self” you meet yourself where you are
  • Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy Cards, available online for £30 ;)