Onward we go with our discussion of PROCRASTINATION. Now you have all listed 5 areas of your life and at least one task you are procrastinating doing in that area. If you recall, that was your homework from the last article that I wrote and you read. If you haven’t done it because…….Oh yeah, you were procrastinating, do it now.

Next review the 7 possible reasons for procrastination. They are 1. we’re scared of doing it 2. we don’t like the task, 3. we feel overwhelmed 4. we like waiting until the last minute to feel the “rush” 5. unrealistic view of the time involved, 6. having psychological or physical problems which make the task difficult and last,7. striving for perfection,

Most of us can knock out number 6. That would be a really bad excuse unless it is true. Anyway, put the number or numbers of the reason for your procrastination beside each task. Now take a look. Are a lot of the numbers the same? Is it always feeling overwhelmed or do you not like any of the tasks? This will give you a road map for where we are going.

Next, prioritize the 5 tasks you have chosen to work on in order of most repulsive to least repulsive. Now take the most repulsive task and ask yourself. How important is this? Will my health be affected if it doesn’t get done? Will my income be affected? Will my happiness be affected? Will someone else’s happiness be affected? If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, consider whether you should do the task at all or if you should delegate it to another to do.

However, if you answered yes, then you must do it. The task won’t go away , it will be exactly the same tomorrow or even bigger. Now, can you break it down in smaller parts ( Such as getting materials together to complete the task)? If you can answer yes to this, then take out your calendar and make an appointment with your calendar to do this first step. The trick is to not calendar it for longer than 7 days ahead, preferably no more than 5 days.(caveat: if it is a time sensitive task, then you need to calendar accordingly, as we lawyers say). Be sure to give yourself enough time to do it. Now forget it and get onto the next most repulsive task you have to do and do this procedure until you have completed all five. Aren’t you proud of yourself?

Now review the reason that you didn’t want to do the most repulsive task. Let’s take an example. You didn’t want to do an Opposition to a Summary Judgment Motion because you are afraid you don’t know how. Or are you overwhelmed because it is a really big task and will take several hours? Or are you basically bored with doing research and legal writing? Can you hear the little kid screaming inside you that doesn’t want to do it period and really only wants to play.

What’s the first thing you can do to break it up in parts? Read the S J motion and mark all the fatal errors and areas that you are going to dispute. Next calendar all of your dates of service, etc. You can probably do that in less than two hours, before starting any research, so calendar just that. Next, calendar time to decide what research you have to do by looking at the areas of dispute and noting the issues. This may take a bit more time but you should come out with specific areas to research. Then calendar for that, not too far in the distant future. The actual writing will have to be calendared within sufficient time to do the proper service, so that needs to be done at some point. And then its all done and you can play.

There is one reason that needs to be address more in depth here. That is feeling overwhelmed. If you can step away and decide that you really just have too much going on in your life and can’t get anything done even by prioritizing, maybe you need to give serious thought to getting help. You could hire a law student or another attorney to do the Opposition. You can hire an organizer to clean out your closets. You can hire a housekeeper to clean your house. You can entice your children with some goodie into feeding the dog and cleaning their rooms.

None of this is easy but identifying and writing down a place in your calendar for each task is the best method for starting to overcome your hesitation. Also you can resort to little tricks, like giving yourself a gift when you complete a task on time This may work for you, or you may have to identify all the negatives things that will happen if you don’t do it…..

OK, now it says in my calendar that its time to go to the Gym…..I’m thinking about hitting DELETE …..


I was giving a seminar on GRIT at the Littler law firm in San Jose, CA last week and one of the lawyers mentioned that procrastination was one of her areas that she needed more grit in.  I didn’t have time to go into too much detail, so here’s the definitive blog on that.  Hope it helps a lot of you.

I’ve now found a hot topic that I would like to spend at least two blogs on. It’s that dirty word…..PROCRASTINATION. I am becoming an expert or perhaps I have always been an expert at doing it.

So, here goes. Procrastination is the single most important time waster we have. Guess what is the number one area of procrastination? EXERCISE. Yes, we all know it is the “fountain of youth”, etc. etc. but how easy it is to drive right by the Gym on the way home. Now, there are some people out there that really like to exercise. We see them jogging along in the mornings and know that they are happy, healthy and skinny. We long to be there, happily running along side but can never quite get ourselves worked up enough to “just do it”.

Why, you ask, do humans put off even serious stuff that they know should be done? This even goes to things like not taking medication or going to the doctor for really serious stuff. A study showed that people who are on the edge of glaucoma and need to put drops in their eyes every night to keep it at bay, are only 80% compliant. Without the medication, glaucoma will develop. With the medication, it won’t. How bad is that?

The experts tell us we procrastinate for several reasons. First, we can be scared of what we might get into by doing it. Second, we really don’t like the task at hand. Third, we feel overwhelmed. Fourth, some people get a rush from waiting until the last minute. Fifth, having an unrealistic view of the time it takes to do a task. Sixth, having psychological or physical problems that makes it difficult to get things done. And last, striving for perfectionism which is unrealistic.

As attorneys, we know that procrastination can cause untold misery and regret. How about the attorney who blows statutes or always has to clean up messes that arise because motions or other work doesn’t get done on time. Most of us aren’t that bad, but procrastination does intrude in our lives and most of us could live without it or at least minimize it.

How about people in your life that drive you crazy because they procrastinate? How do you handle them? Also, some people only procrastinate in certain areas. Their home may be immaculate and the bills paid on time, but they can’t commit ( or decide not to commit) to anything really important, like marriage, having children, buying a new car, starting a practice, or changing a job.

Now comes the homework. Before my next week article which is going to contain some ways to start overcoming procrastination, write down the areas of your life. This will be things like

  • Health,
  • Home,
  • Career Planning,
  • Personal,
  • Family,
  • School,
  • Social,
  • Work
  • and anything else you can think of
  • Then write one thing in each of those areas that you are now procrastinating on doing. For instance, my very first one is “going to the gym three times a week, every week not just when I feel like it (which might be never)”. Then look at the seven things that might be holding you back from doing the task. Mine is number two . I don’t like to exercise. I have never felt any endorphins rushing and I get sweaty.

Try to find at least 5 of these specific procrastinations that you would like to tackle. Next blog we’ll get down to the nitty gritty and offer some solutions. The first one, of course, is something you’ve already done. You have recognized and identified TASKS that need doing and have written that down. Congratulations, you are on the road to procrastination free bliss……stay tune next week!