This powerpack is for people who need to get things done!
- The Justabator
This bad guy whispers “I’ll just do x, then get on with what I’m supposed to be doing”. He is a clever guy, because he knows that “just” checking Facebook/doing the washing up/one episode of TV can turn into hours of procrastination. The Justabator makes you feel relaxed as you feel productive for making a decision to take action… later. Stop justabating and power-up! Try the Reality Check or Do One Thing.
- Bad Bargain
Similar to the Justabator, but tending to operate on a slightly longer time frame. With the bad bargain you might set aside a day for starting on a paper, and when the day arrives, kick the pain down the road a bit by saying, "I won't do it today, like I planned. Instead I'll..."
- The Complacent Companion
This bad guy tells you that because you’ve done something, you’ve done enough, and can stop now. Beat this bad guy by using the Take a Break power-up, and beware the Overworking Overlord sitting on the other shoulder.
- The Overworking Overlord
This guy wants you to burn-out. He fills you with unrealistic ideas about what you should achieve, and forces you not to take breaks in case you don’t get started again. Use your power-ups to win these battles.
- The Self-Congratulator
The voice in your head that reminds you of a time when you procrastinated and it all worked out OK. This voice conveniently forgets the stress and worry that went alongside the putting-off, and ignores the possibility that being better prepared may have had an even better outcome. Focus on the future and use a power-up to get something done now.
- Unrealistic Expectations
Watch out for these - they come in many forms: expectations about what you can accomplish, how long something will take, what's expected of you, what's "necessary." Unrealistic expectations lead you to try to do too much, or to procrastinate because you fear having to do too much. Counter by taking a moment to evaluate goals and using pomodori to measure and pace activity.
- Spoiled Child
SC knows what needs to happen, but in defiance of reality is not going to do it because she just doesn't want to. (*insert foot stamp.) SC believes "wanting to" is a legitimate prerequisite to taking action.
- The Reality Check
Will I really feel more like this later? Do I need to feel like it now? Is the task that I want to do really necessary?
- Quick-Fire To-Do List
Make a list of things to do. Stop at 5 things. Then go and do one of them.
- Take a Break
After completing some of your task, take a break. Set a timer for this break, and when the timer goes, get back to it!
- Do One Thing
Take one step, however small, towards the goal you wish to meet.
- Ask Why
Why are you doing this? Remind yourself of the goal you have, and why this task is important in reaching this goal.
- Progress Check
Spend 5 minutes reminding yourself of what you've done today. Try not to focus on what hasn't been done - look for the positives.
- Get yourself excited!
Get some fresh air, and 5 minutes of movement. This may feel silly at first, but treat the task at hand like a sporting event, or this super huge accomplishment, even if its a boring everyday task. Jump up and down, smile, get ready, set, go!... (if its not a deep concentration task, consider adding your own sports commentary (just make sure you are alone. or have VERY understanding officemates...)
- Jump Start
Get ahead on a project - do something before you absolutely have to.
- Strive for Mediocrity!
Good enough is, by definition, good enough! Avoid the traps of setting expectations that can't be met or making your performance on a task a reflection of your worth as a person. This may be what's stopping you from getting started.
- What is Procrastination?
Think about what your definition of procrastination is. Are there certain situations when it is OK to not be doing what you intended? Illness, for example? What about if you need more information in order to do a good job? Accept that sometimes it is better to put things off, and try to distinguish these times from "genuine" procrastination.
Think back to the first time you procrastinated. A long time ago, right? (If you can even remember.) This is a deeply engrained habit, and one that will take time and effort to break. Keep that in mind, and remember through this journey that any improvement is better than none.
- Suss Out Your Feelings
Why do you procrastinate? Next time you get the urge, pay close attention to your feelings. Are you anxiouys? nervous? stressed out? tired? bored? do you feel guilty? If you can, also identify a reason for this particular feeling and a way to make it go away.
- Super Up Your Workplace!
Make it a nice place to go to. Add a plant, some pictures, if possible a seating that is good for your back. Make sure the lighting is good. Keep it organized, or, if that works better for you, make it a place of creative chaos - just make sure you feel comfortable with it. However, make sure to also have a marked difference in appearance between your workplace and your living/sleeping space.
Think about what goes through your mind when you are procrastinating. Challenge these thoughts with the Reality Check power-up.
e.g. “I can’t do it” – Can you try? What’s the worst that will happen if you have to ask for help, or can only do part of the task?
“I’ll do it later” - Will I really feel more like this later? Do I need to feel like it now?
“I should have done it earlier, it’s too late now” – Something is better than nothing.
- Assess Yourself
Each day, try to think of an example of when you got something done, as well as an example of when you put something off. What were your thoughts and feelings after you had achieved something? What about when you put something off?
- Identify Your Strenghs - an extension to the "Assess Yourself" quest.
Even as a serious procrastinator, there are usually times when you do get some work done. What are they? What makes them different from when you don't work? Is it really only when you have a really close deadline? What do you actually DO differently in that case? What are the differences besides that? Do you work better with people around, or alone? At home, in your office, in the library? When you have just eaten, or is that the time you feel tired? Do you usually get more done in the morning, or at night? Is it better for you to switch between multiple projects, or concentrate on just one larger one?
- Break-Time Activities
Have a think about activities you can do in a break that won’t suck you in. “Just 10 minutes” of a TV show probably won’t be 10 minutes. What about things like a TED talk – which can be sorted by length to fit the size of break you want? Or spending 5 minutes texting a friend to arrange a meet-up? See if you can think of any more – then choose one (or more) and add as a power-up.
- Make a To-Do List
Make a list of things to do. Then set realistic timescales for the things on the list. If the list becomes overwhelming, take a break and use the Quick-Fire To-Do List power-up.
- Introduction to Pomodoros
Some people find this a great technique for beating procrastination. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and start a task. Every time your mind wanders or you feel an urge to do something else, make a note of it, then bring your attention back to the task at hand. When the timer goes off, take a 5 minute break. Repeat as necessary.
- Pomodoro Analysis
After completing a few Pomodoros, take a look at your notes about distractions. Are there any common themes?
- Minimising Distractions
Using the information gleaned from the Pomodoro Analysis quest, think of a way of minimising the distractions you face. If you got an urge to read the text message that came through – consider switching off your phone while you complete the task at hand. If you wanted to “just” read that newspaper article – try putting the newspapers and magazines in the other room. Make a recurring quest to remove this distraction.
- Tomorrow Never Comes
Come up with a mantra to fight the bad guy that plagues you the most. Add this mantra as a power-up. Examples might be “I feel good when I’m productive”, “I can do this” or “tomorrow never comes”.
- Do It Differently!
Trick yourself by turning work into play. Identify one thing you have to do regularly and try to think up ways that make it more fun - Keep score on the number of forms you can fill out in 10 minutes. Collect unusual surnames when dealing with lists of people (or researching literature). If you are used to deep-reading, give the speedy version a try and vice-versa. Make a mindmap instead of writing a text directly. Call a friend and discuss your current work problem with them. Doing it like you used to doesn't work, so try something new!
Try keeping a calendar or diary with scheduled times for a task that you tend to put off. If going to the gym is scheduled between 6-6.45pm on a Tuesday, it may make it easier to say no to an invitation to that bar. If cleaning the sink is scheduled for 11am on Saturday, you may find it easier to rearrange the shopping trip you’d like to go on.
- Build Willpower
It takes willpower to overcome the desire to procrastinate. Help yourself out by making it easier to do the task, by getting the tools or equipment you need ready at a time you are feeling motivated.
- Be Planless!
If you can, set aside a day where you don't plan anything. Put yourself in your supered-up worspace, make sure you can stay there for the day (plan for food, water, etc) get rid of your most blatant time sucks (like, go somewhere without youtube, disconnect your phone...) but its ok to have stuff there that is only a minor time-suck for you (like a newspaper, facebook, etc - this is individual) Then, just do the work you actually feel like doing. If you are bored, don't force yourself to continue with the task at hand. If you suddenly want to do something else, do so. If you get tired, take a break and rest your eyes. Don't beat yourself up about not achieving enough, just try and let it flow. At the end of the day, evaluate your experience and see if you can learn anything from it (note: this works best in a period where you are not completely stressed out, and preferably after a break, like after a weekend off or something.)
- Stop Multi-Tasking
Very few people can genuinely multi-task. Accept that you may not be one of them, and stop trying!
- Keep Going!
Remember that you are breaking a tough habit, and there will be bad days. If you have a bad day, watch out for the bad guys, and remind yourself of your achievements to date. You can take a fresh start right now if you want one.