End Procrastination with Action Days

Want to end your procrastinating? Try an action day to get things moving.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #48

Today's topic is using the power of action days to make progress. We’ll get to that later.

I want to get things done. Really, I do. But I don't. I started writing this episode 40 minutes ago. Then decided there was a message I just had to send. And bank balances to check. And…

Battling Your Inner Teenager

We all find ways to do any and everything except what we “should” be doing. The best cure for insomnia is trash day. I know they come at 7 a.m. tomorrow, but I don’t want to do it right now. I can sleep a little, first. My taxes? Oh, yes. They’re overdue. I’m working on them. Hey, did I show you that last night I played straight through my new game to level 9806 in one sitting? Isn’t that awesome?

We get distracted. We dither, we putter, we twiddle. We even futz. Fun words, but not so fun when it’s the end of the day and our most important priorities are still at the top of our to-do list. We’re probably just stuck in our teenage years, where we’d do anything except what we were “supposed” to do. Fortunately, except for the mohawk, piercings, angst-ridden music, and sappy poetry I write in my journal, my teenage years are firmly behind me.

Finding Accountability

But you know what got me to deliver? It was when my parents made me promise. They would insist on a time. “Stever! Take the trash out by 10 tonight.” If I did it, life was good. If I didn’t do it, I’d get the meat hook punishment. And I sure didn’t like that.

These days, the same technique still works. Not the meat hook, but having someone else to be accountable to. When there’s a lot to do and you need to get yourself on track, try an action day.

I first learned about action days from the late Thomas Leonard, who founded the personal coaching field. Here’s how they work.

Putting Action Days in Action

You and a few friends get a conference line. They’re free, they’re everywhere, and they’re wicked useful. You arrange to check in at a certain time each hour. For example, at 13 minutes after the hour.

Every time you check in, you briefly report what you’ve done in the last hour. Then you promise the group what you’ll do in the next hour. Once everyone has reported, you get off the phone and go for it!


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.