Curing Procrastination – “Eat the Crust First”

Procrastination is a common challenge that affects people at all levels of leadership. Overcoming procrastination is crucial to achieving maximum productivity, meeting deadlines, getting the important things done, not just the urgent things, and executing strategic success.

When I asked ChatGPT to tell me how to “cure” procrastination, its response was no surprise. ChatGPT provided these answers:

  1. Set clear goals and priorities.
  2. Understand root causes.
  3. Break down tasks into manageable steps.
  4. Develop a structured schedule.
  5. Set realistic deadlines.
  6. Make sure the right resources are available.
  7. Foster a positive environment.
  8. Embrace Accountability.
  9. When possible, leverage technology to keep you on task.
  10. Remember, you are setting an example for others.

These are reasonable steps to beat procrastination and probably what every Ph.D. would tell you if you asked them to “fix” your procrastination problem.

But I’m going to get real here and tell you two stories about procrastination:

Many years ago, I built a sales team to set them on a path to success. I had one employee that was the proverbial planner, not the doer. He would set goals for the week (#1 above). He determined the root cause was that he didn’t plan properly (#2.) He would spend hours planning his week, allocating tasks to an hourly block (#3, 4, and 5.)  He would make sure he had his call lists and scripts organized (#6.) He would adjust his mindset to do the work (#7.) By this time, he had spent so much time on #1-7 that he had “run out of week.”

This person got all of the planning right; he just forgot to execute what he needed to do to succeed. These steps became enablers of his procrastination.

Now you ask, “How can I “fix” my tendency to procrastinate?

Let me tell you the second true story.

My grandmother, on my father’s side, had a huge heart. She would often invite strangers, some would call them vagabonds or homeless, to her home to join us for dinner on holidays. I remember one Thanksgiving when I was maybe five or six years old, she had invited a Scottish man. He spoke with such a strong Scottish accent that I struggled to understand him, especially when he rolled his “rs.”  When we had the customary pumpkin and mincemeat pies for dessert, and I noticed he ate his serving of pie backward. He started from the crust and ate to the point. I was curious and asked him about this, and he said, “I’m not a fan of the crust, so I get it out of the way so I don’t have to worry about it and can fully enjoy my pie.” Of course, in retrospect, I realized many years later that being Scottish, it probably never occurred to him to waste the crust. 

I took this lesson to heart in my personal and business life, and I encourage you to do the same. We seldom procrastinate on the tasks we want or like to do. We typically procrastinate the more difficult, risky, stressful, or hated tasks. When my wife, Marilyn, gives me a honey-do list on a weekend, I do the job I least want to do first and save my favorite job for last. I do the same with my work life. If there is something I don’t want to do for any reason, I “eat the crust first” and attack that task. If I don’t do my work this way, that undesirable task hangs over my head, and I find it negatively affects my enjoyment of the tasks I like to do.

So, you can walk through steps 1-10 above or, we can learn this lesson from that Scotsman will help you overcome procrastination. 


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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