Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Motivation follows action (and info on microbursts)

This wise message was posted in response to a new member message. I'm making it sticky here so all new members will see it.  Thanks, movingalong. -pro


Motivation Follows Action -- and "Microbursts"

What we've learned here is that motivation doesn't seem to come by itself.  Oddly, motivation FOLLOWS action.

>Most of our tasks seem intimidating, so we avoid them. So what I do is ... a tiny movement in the direction of  a task I am dreading.

I might just take out the box of "Intimidating Paperwork", place the box on the table, put my hands inside the box, and then STOP.   Then I put the box away.

Then I celebrate that I was brave enough to take the ACTION of placing my hands upon the pile.  Sounds silly, but it does help.

Later on, I might take one paper out of the box, and look at it, then put it away BEFORE I freak out.   I celebrate that I was able to take a piece of paper out of the box.

All of these tiny actions ... are ACTIONS.

Even though small, I celebrate them.  They help me see that I can take an action, without it having to be a "Horrifying Time-Consuming Crisis Event".

After I do a few of these tiny things,  I might actually be brave enough to work on one sheet of paper for a full five minutes.

>Motivation FOLLOWS action.

That's the only way I can get "unstuck".

Working on it for 5 minutes is progress -- (progress from my prior pattern of paralysis).


Credit for the idea of "Motivation Follows Action" goes to
David Burns, from his book "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy"

Credit for the idea of "Microbursts" goes to Cheryl Miller at this link:

Shawna's picture

I’m so grateful to be here!

Found this group a week ago and I'm so grateful!  I believe this article was written for me personally


I'm going to post the full microburst article because it's only available in the wayback machine and may soon become completely unavailable. Original link:

Microbursts* –
Eliminate Dread with this Simple Inertia-Busting Technique

Dread is Bad, Microbursts are good!

How much simpler and less stressful would your life be
if you didn’t have big projects hanging over your head?
I’ve observed that the longer a project hangs over
my head, the longer it WILL hang over my head – meaning
I’m less and less eager to start a project that I’ve
put off, and put off. Dread sets in.

Don’t let dread get a foothold on your projects. Use
microbursts instead.

What are Microbursts?

A friend of mine uses the aviation term "microbursts"
in a unique way and reminded me of it the other day. I define
microbursts as small bursts of energy directed at extremely
small tasks. In other words, they are very short bursts
of activity. A microburst can be a complete five-minute
project (make a phone call) or the first step of a larger
project like cleaning your closet or writing a report. For
cleaning the closet, the microburst activity might be to
open the closet door and look inside. For the report, it
might be to turn on the computer, or make a mindmap. (What
is a mindmap? Go here
to see the one I created to outline points for this article).

A microburst is any activity that starts you moving forward.
It must be an easy start. Make it so small that there’s
absolutely no dread. None. Or you won’t even do the
microburst. Make it so small and simple that it makes you

People’s tolerations for beginning projects differ,
so the size of the microburst varies too.

Examples of Microburst Activities

  • Empty the dishwasher – or the top shelf of the
    dishwasher, or just the silverware tray
  • File 10 pieces of paper – or one piece
  • Turn on the computer – or walk over by the computer
  • Make a grocery or to-do list – or get the pad to
    make a list
  • Pay one bill – or open the envelope of one bill
  • Put your exercise shoes on – or set your exercise
    shoes by your bed
  • Clean one shelf of the refrigerator – or one corner
    of one shelf
  • Read and delete 5 emails – or open your email program

Who Benefits from Using Microbursts?

Because we all suffer from dread and nagging projects at
some point in our lives, everybody can benefit from using

  • Procrastinators
  • Busy people
  • Tired people
  • Perfectionists
  • Teenagers
  • Children
  • Employees
  • Managers
  • People who are Demand-Resistant (see related article)

What are the Benefits of Using Microburst Activities?

The benefits are many. Here are a few:

  • They simplify big tasks because you can break them down
    into several microburst activities.
  • They are productivity boosters and can be used throughout
    the day when you start to feel stuck.
  • They are a painless way to begin a task. And we know
    that beginning is the hardest part of any task. With microburst
    activities you start to think, “Hey I can do this!”
  • They eliminate dread. Microburst activities are so small
    and easy that there’s no dread associated with them.
    They are so simple, they almost seem silly. And silly
    is better than dread. Yes?
  • They are inertia busters – an easy way to energize
    and activate “things at rest.”

Microbursts Can Help You Think Differently About Time

When you use this technique, you will never again be stopped
and blocked about a project because you don’t have
a large block of time to complete it. You can break any
job down into a series of microburst activities.

With this shift in thinking, a block of time can now mean
5-10 minutes. Thinking differently about time can help you
find “hidden time.” While you’re waiting
for a phone call, you can use that 5-minute block of time
to empty the dishwasher, straighten the junk drawer, take
out the trash, make a grocery list, put your feet up, and
the list goes on.

Big Caution: Do not schedule
microbursts. Do them spontaneously. Scheduled tasks often
become dreaded tasks. If you feel stuck on a project, think
of the smallest thing you could do on this project and do
it. Don't energize the dread by taking this microburst too

*Note: In aviation, microbursts are strong, damaging winds
which occur during intense thunderstorms and have been
linked to several aviation disasters.

© 2003 All rights reserved.
Lawrence, Kansas | 785-749-3510

This is gold

This is gold.  I was literally just on my coutch for about 3 hours and read this and then began organising my desk and closets.  Works quite well.

Shawna's picture

Yes, This is indeed gold

I was so depressed and joined P.A. couple days ago.  Reading this made me laugh

haribol's picture

welcome, Shawna!

welcome, Shawna!


Thank you so much.

I'm a newbee on this site and on major study-crossroads. Trying to apply everything I come across here tonight!


Have to go now. In a 'microburst'. Thank you all!!! 

I tried this today ^_^

I tried this one today. I got this little stopwatch and made myself work in five-minute bursts, which is just about my limit right now. It actually helped, but what helped most is finding people who actually get what I'm feeling/thinking.  

Again, and again, thank you. ^_^


Jumping in

"Act and God will Act" - Joan of Arc

Found that a few days before I stumbled into your "Motivation Follows Action" and both are right. 

Micro-burst scheduling

Hi microburst fans :)

Anyone can respond to this post saying when they might want to be on, so other people can join if they want to have a buddy at the same time. 

Happy productivity everyone!


This is such a great post

This is such a great post thank you moving along! You see I believe this is how my procrastination starts, I just say to myself only one minute, then I end up taking a whole hour! The reverse can be true for doing work by taking baby steps, I'll try to force this one in my thinking!

Logged on for the first

Logged on for the first time says I have been a member for 5 weeks...can't believe so much time has passed.    I guess signing up was a microburst, I won't focus on the procrastination of 5 weeks. 

 Amazing feeling of stress in potentially having any group I am accountable to for correct action.     THere is that demand resistance welling up.    


There's no stress Jack!

You're not accountable to us, only to yourself. By checking in every day, it gives you an impetus to get moving. It usually works pretty well. As for us, we're not here to criticize. I've been here about 3 months and I've not yet seen a SINGLE negative comment from one member to another. We're here to support each other! So have a good day! Smile

"A year from now, you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb

"Fall down seven times, stand up eight." - Japanese proverb

Thanks    Great

Thanks    Great quotations Huma

Welcome Jack

Congratulations on logging in today!!!

Welcome connecticutJack!

Good luck! :) We're all here to support each other!

Thank you

I just signed up.  Hopefully, I can contribute some.  I know I have already been helped today, by what I've read in the last five minutes.

 Thank you. 



Los Angeles, Ca. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009 Hello from a New Member


Glad to have found this site and am looking forward to improvement, especially given tools like the Check-Ins!  Smile

A very impressive message.

A very impressive jack forex training play craps play roulette play bingo

One thing I find, related

One thing I find, related to this, is that I am best when receiving feedback on a task as I do it. So "open the file" doesn't always work when I'm alone. I might start writing something then lose confidence, and give up on it.

But if I organise a meeting around something, that often helps me move along, because I get feedback immediately on my idea and I understand if what I'm doing is going to please or impress someone (in which case I'll generally be a lot more willing to get on with it once alone).

Being motivated only by pleasing or impressing other people is probably a terrible thing, but I guess it at least helps to know that's how it works. 

I don't often find it easy to intuit what will please or impress people, and I think that's one thing that's close to the root of my procrastination problem. If you're frightened that you're going to receive unexpected negative feedback, which you aren't ready to respond to, it makes it a *lot* harder to start on something.

ikwym projoy

from knowing the other ppl in this fellowship, we all are very concerned with how well we do, and some very concerned about how well other ppl think we do.

I have experienced the motivation that comes from other ppl believing in what i'm doing. there may be some ppl who live very public lives that can conduct their lives by that motivation.

For me, there's way too much "just me" tasks that no one else cares about--and that includes the boring and maintenance tasks that are part of the overall project that ppl care about--that i have to somehow find motivation to do.

And i have found that strength here, to find the motivation all by my self. well, with the help of my Higher Power.

the touch of the master's hand:

"fall down seven times, get up eight" - japanese proverb

Mark Forster's "I'll just get the file out" technique

This reminds me very much of Mark Forster's (author of "Do it tomorrow" & "Get everything done & still have time to play") "I’ll just get the file out" technique. The idea is that when you are procrastinating over something, you just tell yourself that you'll "just get the file out" or whatever, with no promises to do anything else with the file, just that you'll get it out and put it on your desk.

It actually works pretty well, when I remember to do it (which is unfortunately not that often!), as you often end up at least looking at the contents of the file and often actually get the task done or at least properly started. The only trouble is that unless I actually do finish the task, occasionally my forgetfullness & disorganisation get in the way and the file gets lost in the pile of crap on my desk and I forget I put it there... but then that kind of thing happens anyway, regardless of whether I'm using the "I'll just get the file out" technique!

Obviously the "file" could be anything; if you are procrastinating over cleaning, it could be getting the cleaning equipment out, if it's making dinner it could be looking in the fridge to see what you've got, and so on.

For really chronic procrastinators (myself included!) this technique alone won't be enough to transform you into a non-procrastinator, but it's a very good start and perhaps, if you can get into the habit of using it regularly (easier said than done, of course), it might break the cycle of procrastinating behaviour. I think the trick is to move your habitual patterns of behaviour from inaction to action. The only snag is that changing the habits of a lifetime is not an easy task!

More info on "get the file out"

I just found more info about this on Mark Forster's website:

I think, perhaps, that he didn't have chronic procrastinators in mind when he wrote the "Conquer Procrastination for Ever"  tagline, though!

very wise message from movingalong

Hi moving - this message is so wise, I think I will move it somewhere and make it sticky so newcomers can see it. Thanks for posting it.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

motivation follows action

Thank you so much for your message. This makes so much sense - "motivation follows action". I'm also so relieved that someone understands how I feel. Sometimes I think I must be crazy or something - my family doesn't understand at all why I can't "just do it".

I'll try your suggestion of taking some very small action. That sounds like something I can do.

Again, thank you so much!!!!

motivation follows action

I feel exactly like you described, I am so glad you posted it, because it validates that I am not crazy and not alone....Gina ;-)

"Motivation follows

"Motivation follows action"- It is true, I really like this!

In recovery,