Dealing with procrastination

Have you ever been in a situation where you want to do anything but the thing you are supposed to do? Maybe there is a task of life importance, and you just seem to be stuck browsing Reddit, or Hacker News, or whatever time wasting site you are using to pass time. Procrastination is a hearth-warming practice, which keeps even the strongest of us from continuing to work on most crucial tasks, and spend time on menial tasks, or aimlessly browsing the Internets.

The best way I have found in dealing with was by pure luck. I started dissecting tasks into smaller, 30 minute long ones. The tasks are probably similar to any web application development process. A new recruitment comes in, we discuss it, and it end up in our project planning tool. I have my own to-do system, although I’m trying to switch to GTD, I’m still not there yet. I use Org-mode to handle my to do’s. And I’m trying to make it suit my work flow. Being disorganized in the past, meant that many tasks were left incomplete, or stale, just because of lack of will to finish that last hurdle.

And it is probably that last hurdle, just before you complete the task, that is making you go and slack off, instead of finishing the task at hand. Next time you are in a similar situation, try using my technique. If you have already split the assignment (or project in GTD terminology), into tasks that can be finished in 30 minutes or less, you are on a good way. If not, try doing that first, then come back and try my approach.

The basis of the approach is, when you are stuck working on the main task in your project, that is the most probable time you will want to slack off. Well, don’t do that. Pick up one of the easier tasks in the project. Or if you can’t do that, there is surely some untested part of the app, that really needs your attention. Whatever you do, don’t reach for your browser, and the sites that will suck the life (and time) from you. Hit that menial task for 15-30 minutes, get up and walk for a couple minutes. Then get back to your main task. If you still can’t make yourself work on it, repeat the procedure, until you have no tasks left, but the one task that is making you procrastinate. By then, you should finish the task with ease. You have already done maybe 90% of the assignment, you can surely do the other 10% with the same ease.

If you can’t do that, pick up a new language, or a new editor (hint: Emacs), and play with it, learn something new. Play a musical instrument, or exercise. Keep either your mind, or your body under pressure, because when you let yourself go, it is really hard to get back on track. I myself have lost countless hours doing “busy work”, while doing nothing in particular, just aimlessly browsing the Internet. Don’t be that person, be a Go-getter, finish your tasks, and go outside, have fun.

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