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A Useful Exercise for These Pandemic Times

May '20

As self-isolation continues during these pandemic times, I’ve been hearing a common thread in many of my conversations with folks. These remarks sound something like, “I thought with all this time at home I’d get to those tasks I’ve been putting off, but I just can’t get started on any of them.” Is this true for you?

These are tasks like sorting though those papers, or photographs, or boxes, or clothes to bring order to them—deciding what to keep, what to donate and what to pitch. The challenge presented by this kind activity is that there is rarely any immediate urgency to complete it, so it doesn’t command your attention.

Just as I was pondering the issue, I received an email from NLP Comprehensive reminding me of a strategy to deal with this kind of procrastination. (I participated in their training program years ago and learned some fascinating information about how the brain works and many helpful techniques.) I immediately wanted to share this particular technique in this month’s newsletter. If you’ve been procrastinating about completing certain tasks, it might prove useful to you.

The exercise is called the timeline list. While it typically encapsulates a time period of 5-10 years, I’m going to suggest for today that you use the months until the end of this year as your time period. If another one seems better for you, pick that.

NLP Comprehensive describes the timeline list exercise in the following manner,. (Since I made minor modifications, I couldn’t put the directions in quotes, but the technique is theirs.)

To get started, imagine a timeline stretching out in front of you that represents the seven months until the end of this year. Then literally walk along that timeline in your house or apartment until you are standing where you will be at the end of the year. Turn around, look back and ask yourself this question:

What am I going to regret not accomplishing while I had this gift of some unscheduled time?

Now write down that list. Of, if you like, carry your cell phone with you on this exercise and dictate your responses.

Next, step off your timeline, walk back to the beginning of it and then walk it again to the same point at the end of this year. Turn around and ask yourself this question:

What will I be really glad that I accomplished during these months of self quarantine?

Then make another list. Compare the two lists and consider which ones will make the biggest difference in your life. Add those items to your Commitment List for the rest of 2020.

The next step is to turn those commitments into specific goals.

Week 9 of my journaling eCourse, “Reinvent Your Life ~ Write Now” features a ‘Magic Goal-Setting Formula’ that enables you to set specific goals and make them a reality. (This formula also grew out of my NLP training.) During this pandemic, the cost of the eCourse has been reduced by more than 50%, so it only costs $23.00 today. If you like, you can take advantage of that discount here.

I hope this exercise will be of help break the cycle of procrastination during these challenging times and give you some  feelings of accomplishment.

Stay safe, stay strong, stay sane, and be gentle with yourself,

P.S. After I drafted this newsletter, I tried the timeline exercise for myself and came up with 9 commitments, which I then broke down into specific goals, with a deadline for each goal, because one of the steps of the ‘Magic Goal Setting Formula’ is, “Where, when and with whom will you meet this goal?” Must admit, I felt a sense of accomplishment just by completing the exercise!


  1. Chehale said on May 31, 2020:

    Thank you, Bonnie. i really appreciated this idea/information. i have been suffering from the procrastination-no-motivation bug since about the first week or two of being in isolation!
    And i’m a Life Coach! It’s been hard for me to feel like i’m walking my talk lately!
    Thank you for the inspiration – and tip(s) – from one coach to another!

  2. Bonnie said on July 1, 2020:

    Hello! So sorry to be so late in responding to your post. For some reason I did not receive the heads up about it. Thank you for your kind comments. A…nd I needed to remind myself of this exercise too: ) Bonnie

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