I'm going to sound like a David fangirl here, but hey this is Davidco, right?
Originally Posted by HappyDude
I asked a similar question in 2010 and got some really fantastic answers: http://www.davidco.com/forum/showthr...now-how-to-fix
I often listen to Productive Talk with Merlin Mann, and in it, David quotes Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART (yes, that's the right order of words). The idea being, the closer something is to tapping into the part of you that most wants to be expressed, and the part that has the most on the line, the part that would win big or be forever changed...that's what you're going to avoid. Similarly, Neil Fiore in THE NOW HABIT talks about procrastination as being the result of feeling like you don't have a safety net--that failure will result in total destruction. However, it's usually us that decides that the stakes are that high.
So that's what I tend to find is at the root of whatever it is I'm putting off. Some tactical ways I've learned to combat them are to work in tiny, tiny chunks. For instance, I'll often resist coding speech tokens. Although coding one token takes maybe a minute or even less, there are tens of thousands of them in my data, it is a HUGE project that will take many weeks worth of 50+ hour work, but I need to do that work so I can write my dissertation, and the dissertation needs to be good so that I can get a job, which I need in order to be successful as an academic--see how this is all getting blown out of proportion here? So suddenly I've turned this little task of taking 45 seconds to mark how my subject pronounced "that" and turned it into something that will make or break my career.
Who wants to step up to THAT plate? Not me.
I fixed that by agreeing with myself, repeatedly, to only do five. ONLY five. Not five so that I would trick myself into getting into a groove, but actually only five. My rational brain agreed with my irrational, fight-or-flight brain that I would only face the terrifying thing for 5 x 45 seconds and then I could zone out on Facebook. Once I taught my animal brain that I meant it, I was going to make the terrifying thing go away quickly, I found it easier to get going. I did five at a time. Then I did 10. Then 20.
I worked through a few things in exactly this manner. I've found the Pomodoro Technique to be really helpful in this regard, because it allows me to promise my dumb animal brain that we'll do something it enjoys after 25 minutes, and helps me keep that promise. So it's a lot easier to convince animal brain that we should get started, because it is satisfied it will get the break.
And sometimes, I promise myself rewards. I've been putting off cold-calling some interview subjects since early July. Cold-calling is scary, and anything to do with my dissertation (job future! agh!) is scary, so...terror. I finally just today a) told someone else I was going to do it and b) made the calls from a coffee shop on campus, and the second I got off the phone from the last one, got up and bought myself an expensive sugary drink I wouldn't normally splurge on.
Sometimes, as you say, the system doesn't combat procrastination in and of itself. In fact, it could be precisely because something is resonating really strongly with your 50,000-foot goal ("Have fulfilling career as professor wherein I get to shape future minds and meld my field") that it becomes too powerful to get started on.
That's when you install tricks.
Collect. Process. Organize. Review. Do. That really is all there is to it.