View Full Version : Procrastination Busting Ideas?
12-17-2002, 06:33 PM
So I've got GTD pretty much completely set up, and I've been using it fairly successfully for over a year now. I've got a good, solid next actions list that really and truly are the next physical action I need to take. I do my weekly review thoroughly and religiously. All of this has help me improve my productivity remarkably.
I'm still an inveterate procrastinator! I still find myself sometimes working marathon sessions to complete tasks with deadlines that I had plenty of time to complete but avoided working on for no good reason! Can anyone share any tips or ideas for breaking the procrastination habit? Many thanks in advance.
12-17-2002, 07:00 PM
I learned this idea from Marria of the GTD yahoo list (don't remember where she found it). If there is a large task that you are procrastinating starting promise yourself to do 20 min--just 20 min that day. You may find that this is enough and once you start things are easier.
OR you could try concentrating on the results of your procrastination i.e. if you procrastinate what are the results? e.g. more stress? less sleep? less time doing things you like to do? Concentrate on the negative consequences--really feel them and then ask yourself if you want to do/start the task now, or do you want to live with the consequences.
12-18-2002, 08:18 AM
I truly don't know if this will help, because I'm still toying with this idea myself. :wink:
My scenario is I have the usual list of GTD projects (you know something with 4 actions, but is nonetheless a "project" in GTD terminology). Then I have many larger projects (that would qualify as projects under more formal corporate terminology). Then I have "THE PROJECT", the all-consuming, deadline-driven, center-of-my-life project. I sometimes find, in looking at my list, that all the other next actions "drown out" my next actions for the critical project. (Yes, it's procrastination in part; but seeing these other next actions does remind me that I need to move them along, too...)
So, I'm toying with adding a topic specific action list for that BIG project, along with the usual context lists (@office, @errands, etc). Obviously, it takes this BIG project out of context; but, looking at that list separately might inspire me to focus on getting that BIG project moving, too. (In line with the work-on-it-20-minutes idea from a prior post.)
Anyone tried something similar and have thoughts/advice?
12-19-2002, 10:28 AM
Bryan's post really resonated with me -- I love the idea of next actions, and the concept has made me immeasurably more productive, but I do stumble around the contexts. Try as I might to do otherwise (and I have, over the last year or so), my natural workstyle is that "context" usually equals "project". I tend to focus on various kinds of activities related to one unifying project in a defined period of time -- project here being defined the more old-fashioned way. My solution has been to keep functional contexts for my various "projects" all the calls related to project A, or the writing/at computer stuff. And then for the GTD kind of projects -- smaller things but with multiple steps -- I have carved out "hard landscape" times in my calendar: time for calls, or desktop/paperwork, etc, and cluster those general, often unrelated next actions there.
This may not be absolutely keeping the faith, but it works for me. YMMV
12-20-2002, 07:15 AM
Some (non-GTD) coaches insist that ascribing a Date/Time to a ToDo heightens its visibility and meaningfulness. Having zero discipline, I find this to be true - the Calendar shouts out more urgency than an Undated Next Actions List.
However, as a GTD devotee, all of my Next Actions start life as Undated, as per the GTD book. On days when my Calendar is busy, this works well because the Next Actions list doesn't invade my consciousness unless I have some spare time. But on days when my Calendar is empty, all I have to look at is a long list of Next Actions with no time structure. My brain freezes and my eyes glaze over and I find all kinds of reasons not to Do anything. (Procrastination attributable to having too much time to Do anything!) So on these days, I try to fill my Calendar with a few Appointments with particular Next Actions. Not so many that the day's schedule will be intimidating, but enough to get me started. I'm a bit like an old car - once I get moving, momentum seems to be my best friend.
Hope this helps
12-23-2002, 08:59 AM
I think we all have certain projects that tend to be pushed to one side. I remember when I had an exam. That's when I decided I had to clean the house!
My multi step or time consumming but not urgent tasks have to be scheduled for a specific time. I have blocked out as part of my schedule "appt with my self" (one time management class I went to called them "power hours" You pick one project and power through what you can.) I aim for at least 4 scheduled times a week and I arrange the rest of my appts around that scheduled time. Each week during the weekly review I pick what project I am working on what time and that's what I concentrate on for that days appt.
I had been working this plan for a while. I had my secretary act as my enforcer. Then for one reason or another I didn't do it and the backlog showed. The last two weeks were incredibly productive because I locked myself in my office and concentrated on one project for the allotated time. The rest of the time I worked from my lists and the emergency(ies) of the day. Part of what got me back on track was the Frog.
I need all the help I can get on this. It's so easy to answer the phone or just take care of this one thing before.... A book I read recently "The Power of Focus" by Canfield/Hansen/ Hewitt quoted a business consultant Danny Cox as saying "If you gotta frog to swaller don't look at it too long. If youve got more than one to swaller, swaller the biggest one first."
Canfield etc suggested buying a big plastic frog and placing it on your desk when you are working on a priority project. Alert staff the frog means no interruptions.
I know it sounds silly, but sometimes silly works. I went out and bought a beanie baby frog. He's green/yellow with orange feet and huge glass orange eyes with black pupils that seem to stare right at you. When I tackled those tough projects out came Fred the Frog and it keeps me on track. Fred goes back in the drawer when I am done.
Happy holidays everyone. Here is to a productive 2003
12-27-2002, 04:00 PM
I love the frog idea! A symbol to send yourself a message. I might try that.
Also, re procrastination, I found the book (mods, please delete if inappropriate?) Procrastination for Dummies to be very helpful. They have lots of tricks. The "do 20 minutes" (or 5 minutes!) technique is helpful, as is "reward", "play music", etc. There is a list in the cover of the book.
12-27-2002, 07:54 PM
I acknowledge you all for beginning a dialogue that is so much a part of personal productivity! Procrastination...there are probably several hundred thousands of words that have been written about how to beat it, what it is, and where to go to "get things done."
I have read many of these personal management books, and I find that the ones that have the most value come back to defining the work at the level that work happens.
For example, if I'm procrastinating on cleaning the garage, I stop and look at WHAT is holding me up. Last time, it was that I didn't have the right sized plastic containers on-hand to do that clean up. SO, I simply wrote those down on the ERRANDS list, and lo-and-behold, containers got bought.
It's this "step by step" methodology that GTD is so good at. Taken one at a time, these steps will lead to a pre-defined outcome. Good luck!
It appears that Jason is one of the lucky ones that has avoided catching the procrastination bug. There are some of us who occasionally (or more frequently) find ourselves with a case of the dreaded disease and who sometimes, although we have truly defined the next action, find ourselves staring at the list and not "doing" those next actions. I've enjoyed reading some of the get moving ideas that have been posted (including the frog) and hope others will post more.
01-02-2003, 10:06 PM
Okay, it's the beginning of a new year, so I'd like to put forth a simple, slightly heretical, and easy-to-implement technique to combat procrastination. Three easy steps:
1) Fully accept that your current understanding of GTD (and whatever other personal productivity methods you have studied) is good enough -- that means, unequivocally, "enough already!"
2) Quit, completely, one-hundred-percent, totally (can I say it any other way), trying to improve, tweak, or change your methods, computer programs, pda setups, and whatever else you regard as necessary support systems.
3) Stop visiting, at least for a month or two (or more), this forum, all other sites and forums (including my GTD with Outlook site), and any other resources that you currently think help you get things done.
This is a cold-turkey approach. Be bold; go with it!
Look, procrastination is an illness, and addiction, just as debilitating as any other. I should know; I'm a recovering procrastinator, having struggled with the disease for at least forty years (okay, if you haven't caught it yet, go back to the subject of this post and find my "middle name".) All this "searching for the next good method or program" and tweaking of approaches is nothing more than feeding the addiction. We continually think that if we make this one more change to our system, or add this one more computer addin, we'll be ready to go. Come on, let's get real. That's like saying that we'll get drunk one more time tonight, because tomorrow we'll get sober once and for all. Come on, let's get real.
Go cold turkey! I can just about guarantee that what you already know and have in place in terms of systems is good enough to overcome ninety-nine percent of your productivity challenges (okay, maybe only 98%). Focus on what you already know how to accomplish. Apply what you already know (most importantly, the Next Action). You'll be amazed at where you can go. Come back in a week, a month, or six months, and report on your progress. I promise that you will say something like, "wow, what was I doing all that time. It's so simple; I just stopped tweaking, and I never stopped Getting Things Done!"
Best Wishes to All for a year full of getting things done and improving your outlook.....Bill Kratz --- http://home.attbi.com/~whkratz/ (one last visit and then that's it if you're going cold turkey!!)
01-03-2003, 05:20 AM
Well said. I had been able to cut down on my procrastinating by unsubscribing to the GTD_Palm Yahoo! group after realizing that the base Palm functionality was more than enough to implement the workflow process. That group was instrumental in launching my GTD efforts, but its usefulness has diminished greatly for me. I also avoid Palmgear.com looking for that next version of some useful app to be my "silver bullet."
The real tweaking needs to happen in my brain, not with my tools when tackling this methodology. If it's humming nicely in my head, the tool can be high-tech, lo-tech, etc. without significantly impacting my productivity.
I've often spent time reading forums and trying to tweak my system when I should have really been trying to refine my Projects list or doing a Weekly Review.
How does everyone else deal with this?
01-03-2003, 07:56 AM
Me too! I have recently unsubscribed from a few groups, and I am trying to avoid the temptation to look for more to fill the void. I am also trying to spend less time tweaking, and find that I have to just look at my list and get something done. The time I don't spend reading e-mail and tweaking, I can actually use to do something productive!
04-26-2009, 11:16 PM
There is quite some talk about procrastination nowadays; however, some people have no idea what it stands for precisely. When discussing about procrastination we are talking about delaying a certain action until the opportunity is lost. This can be in regards to any action – for example, a person can procrastinate about their homework by showing a certain degree of laziness and stress at the same time. With procrastination you usually see symptoms such as delaying the project until its deadline (or a few days before that), delaying issues that you dislike doing until they do not need to be performed (with consequences sometimes, with the individual being conscious about them) etc. Basically, procrastination is a vicious act – once you delay one thing, you delay the next thing and you end up always losing time. Opportunities may knock at your door, but if you procrastinate opening the door, you might end up losing them. I know the metaphor is not that great – however, you should understand the side effects of procrastination until you do not lose some important opportunity.
Learning to embrace change is one of the most useful ways to overcome procrastination. People do not enjoy doing certain things, and this is one of the reasons based on which they delay that act – however, being responsible should be more important than your personal will at a certain moment. In addition, you have to admit – procrastinating over every important thing in your life does bring some rather high stress levels and this can be a serious issue too.
Overcoming procrastination is not a easy thing – I mean, nobody actually said that, and you have to have a certain degree of will to overcome it. The most typical example of procrastination is time delay and overwhelming projects. Often people that procrastinate feel that they do not have enough time to complete a certain project, and consider they might find time later. Even if that were true (however in most cases it is not), you have to try and squeeze it in, you have to do a bit now and a bit later, and you will realize that it was not that much to work on after all. Another symptom is work over comfort – some people consider that they are too tired to work (when they have to work at home) and they end up sleeping late and doing nothing. Rarely do they actually find the energy to do what they should.
Overcoming procrastination involves time planning and self-educating – you may consider some talks with a psychologist that may find the underlying cause for your procrastination issues. The thing is – in the beginning, it may not seem very easy but soon you will realize that it is much better to have free time and your projects completed rather than always being stressed about the next deadline and the fact that you never have any time for yourself.
Hey this only a article I gave you there are lot of good articles about procrastination, I will suggest a site have a look at it, m sure you will find some peace and happiness here you go http://helpprocrastination.com/dont-be-a-victim/overcoming-procrastination.php
05-05-2009, 05:52 PM
Mark - part of your problem is you are being lazy and not replying to e-mails. If you need a followup reminder, get Outlook Track-It (http://www.outlooktrackit.com). This isn't the only software I use, but this one is a toolbar that lets you flag important emails for followup reminders. It's Outlook 2007's best plugin/addon, IMO. Reminders are priceless.
05-05-2009, 09:50 PM
Procrastination is a good thing. It's what we do when we want to or need to do something else. We table things, put them on hold, and do something else instead. The only time it becomes a problem is if we believe we *should* be doing a particular thing but avoid doing it for some other reason. There is a dissonance between what we have chosen to do and what we decided to put off but know we *ought* to be doing.
What are some reasons for this dissonance? They vary from person to person. One person is a bona fide introvert who has no problem putting things on their "@ Phone" context list, but when it comes time to call someone, never picks up the phone because they have a fear of rejection, a nervousness of talking to people, less of a sense of control -- or who knows? The point is they avoid it because of their temperament or fear.
There are a host of others that can be listed as well, but the key is to focus less on the procrastination and more on developing "strategies" for working around your own tendencies to procrastinate on certain tasks or incentives for getting you to do them for a different reason. I am not motivated by due dates. Putting them in any noticeable place in my system simply makes me avoid doing them, because for me, due dates mean "How long can I wait before working on this task?" whereas for another it means "I have to get that done now because I can't stand seeing something due on my list." What motivates me instead are successful outcomes. So I review those as a way of getting me to act and get things done I would otherwise procrastinate on.
There is also a difference between procrastinating on things because we have some tendency to avoid doing something and procrastinating on things because we have failed to "recalibrate" a task or project with our new circumstances. So, for example, a task may not be getting done because it's the wrong location context or the due date has already passed, or it needs to be connected with a project. For a list of more you can see my 10 Reasons Why Actionables Linger (http://www.readysetdo.com/category/xtras) or my Why It's Not Getting Done (http://www.readysetdo.com/category/xtras) lists. It's a good reminder that we must learn to not only copy or carry over tasks from our lists, but actually "rewrite" them in light of our new circumstances.
Hope some of this helps.
05-07-2009, 08:15 AM
As a big procrastinator, I agree that it's the mental attitude that must change. However, when I am in the throes of procrastination, it is hard to get into 'action' mode.
What is working for me is having checklists for my two main procrastination triggers: "Having a hard time writing a longer assignment" and "Having a hard time concentrating on a reading assignment?"
I'm also playing around with the zen habit 'three most important tasks' of the day. It's easier to know what i have to do the day before. so I just write that on the first page of my organizer. Also, if my morning schedule is out of whack, I will spend the day dilly-dallying. Do you know what triggers your procrastination? Have you read the 'Now Habit' by Fiore? I plan on re-reading it...
Hope that helps. good luck and let us know what happens!