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July 13, 2009

The Egg-Timer Method

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m terrible at procrastinating and my usual “Just Do It” attitude hides at the bottom of the garden. It can be writing procrastination or housework related or perhaps the ironing pile. When I find things are out of control, and I’m not getting anything done, I turn to my trusty egg-timer. (Actually, it’s the oven timer but either works)

So here’s my hint for people who are having trouble fitting writing into a busy day or aren’t getting certain hated household chores done. Set your timer for half an hour and write this entire time or iron or whatever chore you’ve put off. It might be difficult at first, but do keep it up because gradually you’ll get past the procrastination. Half an hour passes quickly, and you’ll be surpised how much you’ll get done if you’re focused and concentrating. You can also apply this to children – perhaps they can tidy their rooms for half an hour while you’re writing. No? Okay, I’m good but not a miracle worker!

What strategies do you use to counteract procrastination?


  1. Elaine

    Hi, Shelley!

    My first stove (of 25 years) had a wonky timer. Every 6 months when I changed the time, the timer went off at midnight. Never got it right, even though I’m the one in the household who is mechanically minded, so to speak. After the first few years, I gave up using that knob. It wasn’t pretty. My new stove has a digital timer/clock!

    For 24 years now, I have used the microwave timer instead. Works for me! I don’t own an egg timer, but much prefer the seconds counting down on the microwave instead.

    I am a great organizer; however, I am also a great procrastinator. Figures…. I think I’m superwoman and can get everything done! And I usually do! I always do when it counts, mind you.

    What do I DO? Obviously not enough or I wouldn’t be admitting to it still being a problem! Hmmm…. I have a typed list of 5-10 minute jobs I can do around the house while on the phone with someone boring. Does that count? Probably not….

    Aha! When I have a job to do that seems overwhelming, I start with the first step and only focus on that. I make it simple, like phone a company for information or check the Web. Then I write down the next step, the next step, etc. By having it in writing, it isn’t so overwhelming. By scheduling those things on my calendar, they usually get done. Whew! (They say the memory is the second thing to go, ha ha.)

    Sorry I can’t think of any more strategies at the moment. I’m obviously guilty of procrastination!

  2. Gabriele

    Hm, maybe I should get me an egg timer. :wink:

    I have an egg cooker, so I don’t need a timer, but since I’ve developed procrastination into an art by now, I should do something about it.

    You want to come over and do my ironing? :mrgreen:

  3. J.K. Coi

    Great idea, Shelley! When I need a kick in the pants, I’ll do something similar. My critique partner and I will get online together and do a “write-in” for about 30 minutes. Non-stop writing and then we have to tell each other our word count. It really works to get some juices flowing and even after the 30 minutes, I usually keep going

  4. Amy Gallow

    When I first retired, the working habits of a 24/7 career drove me effortlessly and procrastination was a word in the dictionary-I had so much to achieve and so little time to do it!
    These days, I am involved with my grandchildren’s lives, teach writing in short courses three to four times a year, work on two or three WIPs, act as judge in several writing contests and promote my current books as they are released. I’m not sure I have time for procrastination, although I do have more pauses to smell the roses.

  5. Shelley Munro

    Elaine – I like lists for the times when I’m super busy. A list helps gain a semblance of control and I just love ticking off items.

    I had to laugh about the quick-job phone list. That sounds like a great idea. When my sil gets on the phone I don’t get a chance to talk. It’s extra bad at the moment because she’s a new grandma. Perhaps I should work on a list. I usually unload the dishwasher when I’m on the phone with her. :grin:

  6. Shelley Munro

    Gabriele – I’d be happy to come and visit you in Germany, but if you think I’m even looking at your ironing pile you’re deluding yourself. :mrgreen: I hate ironing – my pile is going forth and multiplying as I write…

  7. Shelley Munro

    JK – timed writing like that is a great idea, and it’s even better if a friend works along with you.

    Amy – pauses to smell the roses are good. I find myself doing that more recently.

  8. sandra cox

    egg timer…..I like that:)

  9. Christina Phillips

    I’m a terrible procrastinator. I’ve only recently started getting better and making myself hit daily word counts before I go surfing!

    As for housework, er…


  10. Gabriele

    Lol, yeah, I have that sort of ironing pile, too. :grin:

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