The 7-Minute Challenge

You Versus Procrastination!


Many who experience repeated procrastination want to change. This desire and motivation to change is most acute when time is running out and the person procrastinating is in the throes of an emotional storm of anxiety. — Michael Brustein, PsyD

Procrastination is the art of delay – putting off what needs to be done to do something that’s less important. Almost everybody – if not everybody – is guilty of it. You might even have something to do right now but put off doing it to read this article.

How do we conquer delaying? The 7-minute challenge might help you do it!

The Numbers On Delay

Let’s talk statistics on procrastination. One Canadian professor said that 95% of the population are procrastinators. Out of this 95%, 20% are chrocs [chronic procrastinators]. Still, 1 out of 5 individuals is so bad at delaying it has affected their lives, work, relationships and even their health.

What’s worse, conquering procrastination is difficult when we’ve been doing it habitually. We read articles on overcoming delaying yet it’s hard to take the words out and apply it in reality. Consequently, we lose sleep trying to make up for our delays and put our health at risk.

Is procrastinating really worth our stress, fatigue, and burnout? NO!

Maybe you believe that a “legitimate” excuse will surface so you don’t have to complete the task, but it never comes. — Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC



Time For Change

I, myself, belong to the 95% procrastinating population. And though my delaying’s not that bad, there are times I’ve had to sacrifice time with my family especially my kids to catch up on my work and chores.

A few months ago, however, I came upon Tom Rath’s Eat Move Sleep book. There was one phrase that motivated me to make a difference. It was this:

“The first 5 minutes of exercising are the hardest.”

It implies that if you get past that first 5 minutes, it’ll be easier to go through your whole workout routine.

And so, the 7-minute challenge came to being.

But Why 7 Minutes?

My reasons go far beyond 7 being a magical number.

I’ve timed myself randomly how many minutes it took me to do certain household chores like washing dishes, going after clutter and arranging clothes – every chore gets finished in seven minutes or less.

I did the same with my repetitive work tasks like sorting emails, replying, going through my tasks for the day, or talking to my teammates and it is within the same timeframe.

Lastly, I noticed that whenever I reach a writing hurdle, it usually takes me seven minutes or under to work through my thoughts and set them straight.



And So, My 7-minute Challenge Against Procrastination Is This:

Firstly, if a task takes seven minutes to finish or less, do it whether that be pleasant or something that you loathe doing like putting the trash outside.

Secondly, give yourself 7 minutes to work through your hurdles may that be a writer’s block, finding the will to exercise, or even giving in to the temptation of reaching for your favorite comfort food!

Thirdly, if you catch yourself dallying in your work, like being tempted to check your Facebook instead of finishing some presentations for a meeting at the end of your workweek, give yourself 7 minutes more to work on it. If the 7 minutes are up and there’s no progress, drop the task and take a breather.

By reducing emotional distress associated with procrastination, the individual becomes less likely to avoid the stimulus associated with the feelings in the first place (i.e., studying for an exam). Moreover, because self-forgiveness is typically accompanied by a vow to change one’s behavior in the future, this encourages the individual to engage in approach behaviors rather than behaviors motivated by avoidance.  — Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D.

I hope it has taken you 7 minutes or less to read this article. Now that you’re at the end, get up and do what needs to be done the 7-minute challenge way. And I hope you end up winning against procrastination like I did!