2015-06-22 Do it now

I procrastinate, skip tasks, and delay doing things. But I have some psychological tricks I use, to get started on it, and do it now:

  • Make a list of tasks. Then it feels a psychological reward when ticking each task off, – maybe add making the list as the first item 🙂 It should be small actionable tasks. Having it written down makes it feel more concrete approachable, gives a sense of direction. Ticking off tasks gives a clear feeling of progress.
  • Count to 10. Tell yourself that you will do it before you have counted to 10, and then start counting inside your head. It is a cheap trick, but on me it works surprisingly well.
  • Identify what is holding you back. Is it boring, are you anxious or shy, is the a psychological binding, – and then see the task of a way to challenge that aspect of you.
  • Make it comfortable, and make sure other needs are fulfilled. Before longer work stretches, I make sure that I have easy access to water, preprepared lunch, etc.
  • Avoid interruptions. No message notifications, and phone on silence.
  • Start in a corner. Often the most difficult part of a task is to get started on it, and when you get into it, the work just flow. So just promise yourself that you will just begin on it, and do a little bit, – and then you can stop if you want to.
  • Decide whether to do it. You cannot do all task, so evaluate if you are actually not doing it for a good reason, and make an executive decision of whether to do it.
  • Make distractions unavailable. If you have tendency to do dishes, play music, watch movies, play games, etc. instead of the task at hand, – eliminate the distraction: either make sure it is not natural to fall into where you are, or go a place of focus if possible.
  • Set a time limit. Take a kitchen timer, and say that you will work on the task for 30 minutes. It even helps if you can hear it tick.
  • Make it an imperative. On certain tasks you can decide that this just has to be done. You always get something to eat, change your sons diaper, make sure there is clean clothing, and so on. You can find a similar “must do” motivation for other task, such as exercising, working regularly etc., until they also are habits.
  • External motivation. Tell other about it. Or bring on a situation where it needs to get done. Having guests soon, is a perfect motivation for cleaning up at home. Deciding to present the result on an upcoming meeting, is an efficient way to get the result before the meeting. Telling others about the tasks you are working on, and doing it with other, builds some social pressure or responsibility.
  • Induce work state. Have certain music that you use when working on tasks, have specific place that you work, or maybe even rituals when starting working. If these are habits, they will help set the mind on the task.
  • Make it easy. Put the upright bass right where you can reach it, and make sure it is already in tune, if you want to practice regularly. Have the yoga matt laying ready on the floor, if you want to do yoga. Turn you computer on, and let it be set up with your work environment if you want to code.