Lessons From Baking Cookies: How to Stop Procrastinating

“Make cookies for church” had been on the calendar for more than a week. That was plenty of notice so it wasn’t a surprise. But baking day arrived with the discovery that there were no chocolate chips in the pantry. And it didn’t help that I had waited until late evening to get started on the project.

It was tempting to blame my busy schedule and focus on how tired I was. It’s all too easy to give myself a free pass on my attitude when thinking about everything I do. But then I remembered something I had read earlier in the week, about how the most successful people take full responsibility.

Making excuses rather than cookies was getting me nowhere. It turns out that how we think about what we have to do is often more important than what we have to do.

I’ve baked so many cookies over the last thirty years that I could do it with my eyes shut. But I had talked myself into procrastinating on baking a measly three dozen cookies.

It wasn’t that the job was so big. It was how I was thinking about it.

This cookie-baking session reminded me of some tips to stop procrastination. Let me share them with you, while the lesson (and the cookies) are fresh:

Don’t wait until time to perform a task to check whether you have what you need to do it. Realizing you’re short on supplies or information at the last minute costs time and causes stress. Knowing that you’re prepared eases the pain of getting started. Put “check for ingredients” on your to-do list!

Realize that using a calendar and taking action are two different things. It’s one thing to put “bake cookies” on our smartphone calendar and it’s quite another thing to actually do the task and bake the cookies. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re productive because our calendar is organized.

Dreading a task takes longer and costs more emotional energy than just doing it. We make mental mountains out of our ant-hill tasks. Getting them done usually isn’t as bad as we built them up in our mind to be. All that dread is exhausting and could have been avoided.

There are enough unexpected events in life and business without us pretending to be surprised by regular, recurring events like grocery shopping and taxes. Somehow we think we’re off the hook if it sneaks up on us. It’s a subtle form of evading responsibility. Let’s tell ourselves the truth: we knew it was coming.

The excuse “I don’t have time” usually isn’t quite true. We make time for what we want to do. We have time to browse Pinterest and watch YouTube videos but we don’t have time to do our laundry? Instead of baking cookies earlier in the day I had perused the newspaper and gone shopping. When it came time to face the task, it was easy to console myself with the old “I didn’t have time” trick. No, I had time. I made a choice on how to spend my time.

Sometimes we struggle with getting started on a task, but we all love how it feels when the task is done. It helps to remember that when we’re tempted to procrastinate.

Even if you have been dealing with procrastination on some projects, don’t label yourself a procrastinator. We get more of what we focus on, so think of yourself as someone who is moving towards better productivity.

Whether it’s baking cookies or making your bed, do the work rather than dread the work. The time will pass either way, and you might as well get closer to your goals rather than wish you had. You don’t have to have it all together perfectly to stop procrastinating, just make some progress. And make those cookies.

What helps you get started when you’ve been procrastinating?


  1. Thanks Charlotte – I needed that *talking to*. It’s good to put things into perspective rather than concentrating on our vision of ‘poor me’.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      As you can see, I need it, too! Glad to encourage (and admonish)!

  2. Great tips, Charlotte!
    Do you mind if I share the post on Facebook?

    I have to bake two dozen pretty muffins for a fund raiser next Tuesday. I will plan what muffins to bake and make sure I have all the ingredients for them on Saturday, and I’m going to write that in my calendar when I get off the computer in two minutes!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Please DO share on Facebook! And I love your muffin plan!

  3. This is an AWESOME article! I love the tips and it is so true that we choose how to spend our time and our attitude greatly affects us when we start to feel overhwelmed or anxious. Thanks so much for this one:) I love them all, but this has to be in my top 3 favorites you’ve ever written:)

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Aww, thanks! Glad that it helped!

  4. My daughter-in-law sets out the bowl, butter, eggs, and ingredients the night before. It’s a reminder, lets the butter soften, eggs get to room temperature etc. I’ve learned a lot from her!

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Smart girl! And setting things out helps make sure you have them!

  5. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog this evening! Usually, when I’m procrastinating, there is some mental barrier that needs identified & taken care of….


    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      Liz, you are so right! I find the same thing to be true!

  6. Is it possible to see a full body picture of you now? I am where you were. I am encouraged with your story. The picture will give me incentive not to give up on my torso. I had six kids and was overweight with all of them. You alluded to consequences for being overweight and having multiple kids. Can you share what they are? Do you mean the hanging stomach will not go away? The picture on your home page with your child does not give me a good view of your middle area. Did you stop eating cookies or modify your diet while on this? I am anxious to hear from you.
    Thank you. God bless.

  7. I have found that I have a negative attitude about a lot of things I need to do anyway. Trying to change the attitude, but it’s not always happening.

    Saying, “I hate to take a shower” doesn’t help any when you have to take one anyway, just makes your day go worse.

    1. Charlotte Siems says:

      SO true, Lois! We make things harder on ourselves by being negative about inescapable realities of life!

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