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Sample Essay: Three Steps to Take to Beat the Procrastination Monster
by Rick

Three Steps to Take to Beat the Procrastination Monster

          That big project is due tomorrow and now you are panicking. It didn’t seem so daunting when it was assigned two weeks ago. Where did the time go? What are you going to do now? Surprisingly, this is not uncommon. In fact, about 20% of the population identify themselves as procrastinators. Procrastination is about lying to yourself. When we have a job to do we sometimes put it off because we think we will have more time to do it later on.   We need to essentially trick ourselves not to procrastinate. According to, there are three steps to defeating the procrastination monster: breaking down the task, doing the easier parts first and avoiding distractions.

The first piece of advice is “eat an elephant”. No one can eat an elephant at one time, but if you take enough time and frequent breaks, eventually you will have ingested that elephant.  In other words, organize your project into segments which can be easily managed. By breaking the project down, the project will become less overwhelming. For example, If you need to clean your house, give yourself a timetable to get it done, and treat each room separately. Surprisingly, taking a break between rooms and rewarding  yourself after each room is completed will make big tasks feel smaller. When cleaning a room seems like an elephant sized task in itself, set a smaller goal to clean a closet , or a drawer.

 In addition to breaking the titanic task down into smaller pieces, you might consider doing the most enjoyable tasks first. We call this “picking off the goblins before tackling the dragon”. For me, the least enjoyable task when cleaning is filing away papers because this requires paying attention.  Clearing off the tables and floor is the easiest and most rewarding activity for myself. I like to get the big mess out of the way first by unceremoniously putting the papers and smaller stuff into a box which  can be sorted later. Hopefully, I will take the time later to sort the papers if I don’t forget. At least now they are hidden away and I know where they are. When it is time to put your nose to the grindstone, start by doing the task you like the best or finding the easiest to complete.

Finally, avoid distractions. There is a Greek myth about a sea captain who had himself tied to the bow of his boat, so he would not be distracted from his mission by the hauntingly beautiful music of the deadly creatures known as sirens. What are the  sirens that lure you away from your important missions? Cooking is my siren. To stay on task, I sometimes need to leave my house and work at the library where food is not permitted.Since I cannot eat, I can then focus on my work for a long period of time and then reward myself by cooking after the job is done.  Avoid the siren songs. Avoid your personal sirens because distractions are the tools of procrastination.

 Wisely remember the three steps to defeating the procrastination beast: eat that enormous elephant one piece at a time, pick off the easy goblins before tackling the daunting dragon and ignore the enchanting sounds of  the sirens’ songs. Try it next time as you face a task larger than usual. 


(December 15, 2013)

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