Still procrastinating about a bunch of things on your action lists?

Date: Saturday, February 06, 2010 by GTD Times Staff

Still procrastinating about a bunch of things on your action lists? There’s

your lists – not small sub-projects about your stuff. -David Allen

14 Responses to “Still procrastinating about a bunch of things on your action lists?”

  1. “If (1) give yourself permission to move them to Someday/Maybe” or, even more importantly, give yourself permission to delete them.

    Remember the value of the Trash in the processing step and recognize it is just as powerful and essential when dealing with things already captured in your system.

    When it stops being something that matters to you, discard it. If it becomes important again, it’ll come back to you.

    Prune the dead branches so they quit poking you.

  2. Dale Schultz says:

    David, isn’t there a 3rd option? Some of our procrastination items are tasks that we simply do not like to do; persons/things that we grow to extremes to avoid.

  3. Phil Taylor says:


    I love the post. I’ve been fighting this exact problem for about two weeks. I just wasn’t comfortable moving them to Someday/Maybe. Thanks.

    @Dinah Sanders: Nice alternative. Sometimes they just need to go.

  4. Rudolf O. says:

    @Dale you should maybe assign a due date for your tasks. That may give them enough urgency that you’ll do them. You could also try breaking the task down further so you can get the “little wins” from completing the tasks.

  5. Bruce says:

    I think the “delete” point is important. I have so many no-longer-important items that I keep on my list because I MAY get to it eventually.

  6. Stephen Elliott says:

    I agree with @ Dale Schultz. There are some tasks that are just a pain to have to do, and if they aren’t urgent they languish until they become urgent.

    Is there a way to tackle unpleasant tasks/next actions in a timely fashion?

  7. In my experience procrastination is also a matter of incorrect estimation of the time and the effort needed for accomplishing a task. People often overestimate both, thus delaying action until they feel comfortable with execution. Unfortunately, this rarely happens …

  8. Anne says:

    Thanks for this. What I have found useful (as I’ve been struggling with this) is really narrowing down my time horizon on this. NA lists only include what I am pretty sure I can get done this week. The rest goes into the Someday/Maybe list and since I do a regular weekly review…they get looked at again.

  9. Luke says:

    @Stephen Elliott: Very well put. I’ve halfway into a home improvement project and I’ve run into so many problems along the way that I just don’t feel like getting engaged with it anymore.

    I’ve got very next physical actions on my lists, but I avoid doing them because I’m just sick of taking one step forward and two steps back. I’m going to need some form of external motivation to get re-engaged.

    Perhaps I should set a milestone due date for myself and if I don’t meet it I hire a professional to finish the job.

  10. Kimmar Osborne says:

    @Luke: You hit the nail on the head. I struggle with “demotivating” task, actually I don’t; they sit in Next action crying to me.

    Recently I was introduced to a book called “Get Motivated” by Tamara Lowe She has put motivation into a process. She offers a free “test” that tells you how you are motivated and you can move you task more in line with who you are and the way you operate. I’m in the middle of it and it is fascinating.

  11. AG Investor says:

    What about simple boredom? Doesn’t anyone just get bored with a task before completion? I have a million ideas; start a million projects; and don’t get very many of them done 🙁

  12. AG Investor says:

    By the way, I took the full GTD seminar with David about five years ago…

  13. AG Investor says:

    What about boredom? Doesn’t anyone get bored sometime during a project? I have a million ideas; start a million projects; and don’t complete many of them. 🙁

    by the way, I took the full GTD seminar with David about five years ago.

  14. Stephen Elliott says:

    Having read many of the comments here, I returned to a “project” I was having problems with- writing a report! The problem was disinterest in doing it, so it wasn’t getting done but it had to be done eventually.I decided to break it down into its next and following actions, and I realised I was getting stuck on the layout of the report. Once i focussed on that and sorted that out, everything else was rather straight forward. I have decided to try this out on my other stuck projects-see if there is an action down the line i am actually stuck on, and sort that out so that everything else can flow.

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