Monday, March 24, 2008

Fighting Procrastination: Just Do It

By Jon:

I am an incredible procrastinator. The Internet is my best friend: Wikipedia, Flash games, message-boards, Google Reader, and on from there.... The Internet is filled with things that take my attention and time. I have to try incredibly hard to get over procrastination, and when I do, I'm stuck looking at a pile of e-mails, tasks, and things I should do "if I had the time."

The "Just Do It" concept [thank you Nike] hit me pretty hard one day when it finally clicked: nearly all my tasks, e-mails and thoughts don't take long at all to do. Cleaning up my inbox or cleaning up my office each take about 15 minutes if I focus and just do it. I used to spend fifteen minutes worrying about my task list and that I'd never get it done, and now in that time I can mark several items off.

Just doing something is considerably harder if you don't have a plan, though. Most of my e-mails are requests to do something, be it pulling a report or checking on something. I capture all those items into Todoist, my GTD app of choice. It allows me a simple and efficient layout that lets me focus more on the tasks than on the organization of the tasks themselves.

On these thoughts, here are some points that I've taken to heart:

  • Doing something is often just as easy as worrying about doing something
  • Looking at something twice is half as efficient as looking at it once and taking care of it
  • Don't check your e-mail/tasks, process them
I'll leave you with this: Merlin Mann, creator of the 43 Folders site and organizational guru, has a brilliant effort he's pushing called Inbox Zero. A while back, he spoke at Google and laid out some great details and concepts. Here's the video:


Words For Hire said...

Jon, great post! I now spend the first hour of my day tackling a task rather than checking email. Once I've gotten through that first hour accomplishing actual work, it's easy to do a 15 minute check of email. I have found that forcing myself to just work through something whether I feel inspired or not is the cure for procrastination. Not always easy, but always worth it.

Michael Henreckson said...

Those are some incredibly powerful ideas. The bullet points especially. Every one of them is right on.

Jaclyn said...

Good thoughts in this post. The point about processing e-mail definitely resonated...

I just wrote a post with some suggestions about efficient intelligence gathering. Take a look, I'd love the Corporate Hack's perspective.

Jon @ The Corporate Hack said...

Hey all,

Thanks for your kind comments.

Merlin's Inbox Zero concept has really helped me get through my email and move my GTD task lists to one list. That is, I don't work out of my email, voicemail or paper lists anymore - I process it all and move any leftover tasks to my online GTD app and off I go.

That's drastically sped up my productivity and I hope yours as well. I'm looking forward to checking out your posts!

Thanks again,