Written by Gwydhar Gebien
Step 1. Make a to do list
Break big projects into little tasks and include some dumb items like “clear off work space” and “gather materials” so that you have some things that you can be sure to accomplish in one day. The point of this step is to show exactly what needs to be done and to give a sense of how much progress is made along the way.
Step 2. Set a time limit.
On bigger tasks that are going to take up several hours, rather than trying to do it all at once and losing focus, set a time limit for how long you will work on it. An hour is a good measure- long enough to accomplish something but not so long that you’ll pass out from hunger. The point of this step is to give yourself a goal unrelated to the project to help slog through the times when you feel like you’re not making much progress.
Step 3. Get started right now.
Not after dinner, not after a TV show, not once the sun goes down. Get started right now. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. It isn’t hard, you just have to do it. Be like Nike: Just do it.
Step 4. Don’t move your butt from your seat until time is up.
If you’re prone to procrastinating you’ll start work and begin to feel hungry. Or sleepy. Or like it is really important to alphabetize those DVD’s. That’s fine. The best way to fight the urge to procrastinate is to put it off. You can have a snack in an hour- you won’t die of hunger. You can take a nap when the clock says 6:00- you can stay awake that long. You can alphabetize those DVD’s fifteen minutes from now when you’re done working. (Be sure to go to the bathroom before getting started.) The point of this step is to keep the urge to procrastinate from becoming overwealming. Just like dieting; the more you tell yourself to avoid donuts the more you want one, but if you tell yourself you can have a donut in 15 minutes you can usually wait that long.
Step 5. When time is up, set a time limit for how long your break will be.
Ok you’ve worked for an hour. You deserve a break and you should take one- but figure out how long it is going to be and stick with it. 15 minutes for a snack? 20 minutes for a power nap? A quick half hour television show? Fine. Set a timer and put it WAAAAAY across the room so that you have to get up to turn it off. And while you’re up, now is the time to get back to your To Do list.
Step 6. Take a break.
All work and no play make everyone want to procrastinate. Take a break and don’t fill it up with work. In fact, put “take a break” on your to do list so you can cross it off. Getting away from the work helps you feel refreshed when you get back to it. The point of this step is to give in a little bit to those urges that otherwise cause you to procrastinate: eating/sleeping/relaxing.
Repeat as necessary.