The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination

Several years ago, I briefly discussed a few methods for overcoming procrastination, but they didn’t take. The sea change I expected never came. People still procrastinated as much as they ever did, despite views for that particular post reaching the upper tens of thousands. Today, that changes. I’ve created a definitive guide to overcoming the procrastination preventing you from accomplishing your goals, completing your duties, fulfilling your responsibilities, and realizing your dreams. After reading today’s post, you’ll never mess around when you should be doing something more important again.

First, a method for overcoming general procrastination:

People often ask how I manage to stay on top of the blog, the business, and the books without going crazy or succumbing to procrastination. I follow a simple process that’s never let me down.

1. Write down the tasks that need to be completed.

2. Complete the tasks.

This is a remarkable method. It’s simple (just two steps) and it’s foolproof (following both steps eliminates the chance of procrastination).

Note: it’s crucial to follow every step to the letter. This method doesn’t work if you don’t.

In my experience, however, this first method doesn’t work for everyone. I strongly suspect they’re just not following the protocol to a tee, but just the same, I’ve come up with some more specific recommendations for unique procrastination situations.

Taking a walk.

You want to walk more, right? You’ve read a thousand MDA articles extolling the virtues of daily walks, and it’s time to make it happen.

Close the laptop, switch the phone to airplane mode, tell your co-workers you’re taking five, and put down whatever you’re doing. Stand up. Turn 90 degrees (give or take a few and depending on your set-up) and put a foot forward. Transfer your weight onto that foot, and then do it again. This is walking! Now go do that for a while. Stop, and come back to where you started. There: you went for a walk.

Going to the gym.

Pick up your keys, leave the house, unlock the car. Get in and turn on the engine. Think for a moment: where is your gym located? Once you have the location in mind, you’re ready for the next and final step: driving! Drive to the gym, park your car, exit your car, and walk to the gym’s front doors. Open them and go inside.

If you’re lucky, you can transition from taking a walk into going to the gym. Simply make the gym the part of the walk where you stop and turn around. Only don’t go back home just yet. Stick around for a while and do some stuff.

Lifting weights.

Hidden within the phrase “lifting weights” lies the solution to procrastinating about lifting weights: lifting weights.

To lift is to move an object upward from a point of support. That point of support could be the ground (as in a deadlift), your clavicles (as in an overhead press), or a weight bench (as in the bench press). Whatever weight you want to lift, you simply have to lift it in order to stop procrastinating and lift weights. Barbell? Just grab and lift it. Dumbbell? Grab (with one hand) and lift it. Kettlebell? Grab (with both or either hand) and lift it by swinging it.

Once you’ve lifted a weight, you’re lifting weights.

Kickstarting your Primal lifestyle.

Even though I’ve designed the Primal Blueprint to be an intuitive way of eating, exercising, and living, some people still have trouble jumping in. The 21-Day Challenge can help. Joining a Primal meetup group can help. But what if those aren’t working?

First, make a list of the pros and cons of your prospective new lifestyle. Carefully consider what you’d be giving up, what you’d gain, and the problems you’d encounter by adopting the Primal Blueprint way of life. Be brutally honest, and if at all possible get your list evaluated by several close (but no-nonsense) friends or colleagues.

Then, tear up the list and stop eating grains, refined sugar, industrial seed oils, and processed junk food. Begin sleeping eight hours a night, exercising regularly, moving frequently, spending ample time with friends and family, and getting out into nature as much as possible. There. Done. You’re Primal.

Getting to sleep at a reasonable time.

Sleep is important. Like, really important. But there’s always something else to do at night. There’s always a new show to watch, Twitter feed to refresh, blogroll (is that still a thing?) to peruse, or inbox to check. Even though we intellectually grasp the importance of getting to sleep at a reasonable time, we put it off when night actually falls. “Bedtime procrastination” is real and widespread. It’s time to put and end to it.

But how? By sleeping. It may not be intuitive, but shutting down the electronics, putting on your pajamas (or removing all clothes, if weather permits and that’s how you roll), climbing into bed, turning off the lights, and closing your eyes is actually a surefire way to beat sleep procrastination.

Not eating grains.

Grains are everywhere, and grain-based foods are often delicious and inexpensive. Plus, grains are omnipresent in most cuisines and cultures. It’s difficult to avoid eating them for these reasons.

However, not eating grains becomes much easier when you stop buying, cooking, and consuming them. It’s sort of a secret trick of the industry: the best way to stop eating so many grains is to stop eating any. So next time you feel compelled to buy, cook, or consume grain or grain products, don’t do any of those things. It’s that simple.


Cooking seems like a no-brainer for anyone interested in healthy living. It allows you to control what goes into your body. It saves you money from eating out. And it can be rewarding in its own right to cook a really good meal with your own two hands. Most people, when asked, say they’d like to cook more often and eat out less often. That goes doubly so for Primal people. But they don’t, by and large. Something holds them back from accomplishing this task they know will improve their lives. What can we do?

Let’s just use an example: a steak. You want to cook a steak, you have a steak sitting in your fridge just asking to be cooked. It’s grass-fed, it’s well-marbled, it’s a real beauty.

Put your cast iron pan over high heat until water droplets dance across the surface. Then, put your liberally salted and peppered and greased up steak on the pan. Flip it midway through. Remove from pan. There, you’ve cooked a steak and overcome your cooking procrastination.

Eating more vegetables.

Eating vegetables is the one piece of diet advice that everyone agrees on. It’s also the hardest to follow. For some reason, folks tend to put off eating more vegetables.

Choose a vegetable — any vegetable, let’s say broccoli. Hold the vegetable in your hand, if cool; on a fork, if hot. Lift the vegetable (remember how to do that?) toward your mouth, which should be opening wider as the piece of broccoli draws near. Place the broccoli into your mouth, close your mouth, and commence chewing. Once the broccoli is sufficiently masticated, swallow. You still have some digestion to do, but that’s the responsibility of your GI tract. You’re all done!

Sprinting more.

Besides walking, sprinting might be the physical activity I promote the most. You know it’s good for you and can get you fit and burn lots of body fat. But part of the reason it’s so good for us is because it’s so hard. Literally, it’s a tough way to train and places a large amount of stress on your body. Some people find it downright unpleasant to sprint. Luckily, sprinting procrastination can be overcome. And it’s not even that involved a process.

Stand upright, facing a flat or inclined stretch of ground at least 30 yards long. Start running as fast as you can, alternating your weight from foot to foot like you when you walk, only sped up. Quick, before you reach the end, take a moment to acknowledge what you’re doing: sprinting!

Getting sun.

For years, we’ve been told that the sun is poisonous, that any amount of unfiltered sunlight in the absence of copious sunblock would give us cancer. So it’s understandable when most people avoid getting sun. But you? You’re different. You’ve learned how beneficial the right amount of full sunlight can be to your vitamin D levels, your health (and that of your children), and your happiness. You know you should be getting some sun. You want to get sun. Yet you don’t. You hem and haw and make up excuses.

Go outside on a sunny day. Take off your shirt, roll up your sleeves, hike up your skirt, bare those shoulders, and stand out in the sun for 5-20 minutes. See that shaded area? Avoid it. Make sure your skin is lit up by the sunlight; that’s a sure sign that sunlight is hitting you.

Part of overcoming procrastination is overcoming the most common roadblocks to our completion of tasks: issues like writer’s block and temptations like TV, the Internet, our phones, and email.

Writer’s block.

On paper or in a word processor, string consonants, vowels, spaces, and punctuation marks together to form words, sentences, paragraphs, and, eventually, complete works. This is known as the act of writing and it’s the best way to overcome writer’s block.


Don’t type “Twitter” into the URL bar. If you have to search for “twain” or “Twitty” (as in Conway, the musician) or any other word that begins with “tw,” beware of Google’s autofill feature. It will likely suggest “Twitter” as the first option, and that is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Ignore that and keep going! (This is a real issue for Conway Twitty research, as the first five letters of “Twitty” and “Twitter” are identical.)


Turn off the TV. You’ve already got the remote in your hand, so you don’t even have to get up. Just press the on/off button. Go on, do it. There! All done. The TV’s off and you can go do something else. Like go for a walk.

Insider tip: If you find yourself pressing the on/off button to turn the TV on, make it a double click! This will quickly turn the TV on and then back off, preventing you from procrastinating.


Perhaps the primary cause of phone-induced procrastination is looking at the phone. When we look at the phone, we’re not looking at the task at hand, and that’s a real problem. Luckily, you can beat phone-induced procrastination by not looking at your phone. Your first instinct may be to override this rule and look at your phone anyway. That can be countered by not looking at your phone.

Stop looking at your phone.


Incredibly, email arrives whether we see it happen or not. You could be gone for a day, or heck, even a week, and every email sent to you would be waiting in your inbox when you returned. So right off the bat, checking your email is unnecessary, especially when you have something better to be doing.

That leads me right into the solution for overcoming inbox-induced procrastination: don’t check your email. Instead, do your work.

That’s about it, folks. I’m confident that this post will solve just about every procrastination problem you can throw at it. If not, be sure to write in down below and let me know about it!

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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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