Despite recent strides in my productivity habits, I still catch myself procrastinating at work more often than I'd like. It's not that I make a conscious decision to put off a project; it just feels as though I wake up 20 minutes later and realize that nothing got accomplished. (Or, to avoid the passive voice and take much-deserved responsibility, I "realize that I haven't accomplished anything".)
I've been looking for techniques to improve, and got a lot out of LukeProg's articles on How to Beat Procrastination and My Algorithm for Beating Procrastination, based on Piers Steel's The Procrastination Equation.
But I also wanted a way to put the principles to use with the lowest activation cost possible. I can't expect unmotivated future-me to be too cooperative; I need to provide him with an easy path to get in flow.
So! I developed a 10-Step Productivity Checklist, pulling the concepts from Luke's articles and adding a couple points that are important for me. Now whenever I notice myself being unproductive I have a much easier time following the steps one by one until I get back in a good mindset to work.
What is the task? Make sure you're going to focus on one thing at a time.
Do you have something to drink? Get yourself some tea, coffee, or water.
Are distractions closed? Shut the door, quit Tweetdeck, close the Facebook and Gmail tabs, and set skype to "Do not disturb."
What music will you listen to inspire yourself to be productive or get in flow? Put on a good instrumental playlist! (I love video game soundtracks, further notes in comments.)
Why are you doing this task? Trace the value until you feel the benefit.
What are the parts to this task? Break things down as much as you can, until they're physical actions if possible.
What are some ways to gamify the task? Try to have fun with it!
What are some rewards you can offer yourself for completing sections of the task? Smiling, throwing your arms up in the air and proclaiming victory, or M&M's all count.
What's an achievable goal for this sitting? Set a reasonable expectation for yourself.
How long will you work until you take a break? Set a timer and commit to focusing.
Get into flow!
I'd love to hear from you:
- Whether these are useful
- Any ideas for good ways to enact these steps
- Steps that should be added/removed/tweaked
- Whether there are other posts/resources that you've found valuable
I hope this helps you as much as it's helping me, and that together we can make it even better!