My Trick to Stop Procrastinating

The next time you find yourself procrastinating, try the “Can I Just?” technique. What’s the smallest step you can take toward your goal? If you’re going to the gym, ask yourself, “Can I just put on my workout clothes?” Learning a language or studying? Try asking yourself, “Can I just learn one new word?” “Can I just read one page?” “Can I just do it for five minutes?” There are tons of possibilities.

After you’ve completed the first “Can I just?” task, you’re off the hook. You don’t have to go to the gym, or study for four hours, or whatever it is you were going to do. Guilt-free. But if you feel like continuing at that point, give yourself another. “Can I just get in my car?” If you do the second one, continue in the series. “Can I just drive to the gym?” “Can I just put my bag in a locker?” “Can I just do one exercise?” And so on.

I’ll be honest, sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I have sat in my workout clothes and continued procrastinating. I have practiced my violin for ten minutes and then put it away. Other times, I’ve put finished a whole workout, or a whole hour of practice. But when I’ve chosen the smallest task, I’ve always done it. And there is still a benefit to this, even if you don’t complete the original endeavor.

The key is to pick something you know for sure you can do. Once you make the promise to yourself to do it, keep that promise. You’ll start to feel like you can rely on yourself. You’ll build a sense of trust and reliability with yourself, and from there you’ll be able to make bigger promises, and to achieve bigger and bigger goals.

Have you tried this out for yourself? Let me know if it worked in the comments!

P.S. I didn't invent this trick, but it works for me, so I feel compelled to pass it on. I can't remember where I heard about it, but if you've heard about it before, please share the source in the comments.