L ike many professional procrastinators, I never put off what I needed to do by engaging in some trivial, mindless activity. No, I put off important work by getting engaged in something else equally important. Look at how productive I am! Now I have TWO unfinished projects.

Through high school and college, and even into law school, I would attempt to finish one assignment only to find myself halfway through three of them by the end of the day. Why continue studying for Torts when I could work on my Constitutional law outline? I definitely need to get back to Criminal Procedure, but first I’ll return to the legal writing assignment from earlier. In this way, I kept myself very, very busy, and got nothing done.

It took me years to break this chain of incompletion. In fact, it took me years to even recognize I was so productively unproductive. Once I acknowledged the ugly habit, I knew I had to develop a solution. I bought books on procrastination, but of course, I never finished them. (Yes, that’s a joke!)

Eventually, I learned to break my projects into tiny bites, snacking on assignments instead of trying to devour them all at once. In this manner, the projects take longer, but I have less anxiety about completing them on time. I have to give myself longer lead times, and de-clutter constantly to stay organized, but I haven’t felt that late night panic in decades.

I often call out to my class that we are only going to continue the current movement for another 30 seconds. Then I will remind them, “You can do anything for 30 seconds!” By breaking the sixty minutes down into small packages, the routine, and especially the dreaded end-of-workout abdominal exercises, seem more manageable. Before you know it, another fifteen minutes have flown past.

Breaking a workout into chunks mentally takes away the pressure you feel when you know you have to rush to get everything done within one hour. Take it from a former procrastination gold medalist, even after a grueling workout, you will leave feeling calmer because you accomplished what you intended. So construct a mental plan for your workout, build in time for breaks, and remember – whether it’s jumping jacks or battle ropes or round kicks into a squat – there’s nothing you can’t keep up for another 30 seconds!