Title: The Little Guide to Unprocrastination
Author: Leo Babauta
Author Nationality: American
Publisher: Leo Babauta
Year Published/ Release: February 2017
Pages: 61 (Kindle)
Book Version: Ebook
Leo is best known for his blog on Zen Habits and minimalism.
In this short book, he addresses a common challenges we all face-Procrastination.
While procrastination is good on certain levels, it tends to have more adverse effects when it goes unchecked. He has shared great insights on why and how we should unprocrastinatinate. Here are the takeaways from the brief and well-written book:
- Can hurt us because it stops us from getting our work done and even when we get the work done, we often do it rushed so we don’t put our all in it resulting in substandard results and questionable performance.
- Causes us to waste the few hours we have on this earth, increases our stress levels and prevents us from achieving our goals.
- Will hurt our self-esteem and when done long enough, we begin to feel lazy, incompetent and undisciplined.
- Is good if you are burned out and need rest.
- Can help us find space to work at a more leisurely and sane rate, to think and contemplate as well as work on our relationships.
- Happens because we want instant gratification, we fear or dread something, its the easier thing to do because there are no negative consequences at that moment, overestimation of our future self, lack of motivation and inertia.
- We are most often afraid of the unknown, which has more power because we don’t examine this fear- it just lurks in the back of our minds.
To manage procrastination:
- choose an important task, make it the first thing you do today, keep things simple and just get started. Then reward your 10 minutes of work. If you keep falling back, re-evaluate whether you really want to do it.
- Fine-tune your motivation by asking thyself, if you really want to do that particular thing, then identify if you can get away with it or if it is something that absolutely must be done. The key is in finding a task that is important to you and one that excites you.
- Make yourself accountable; sometimes telling the world about it can be incredibly motivating to know that people are watching you.
- Enjoy the process, after all, there is always a way to enjoy something, if you focus on the part that you love.
- Often we procrastinate on the big tasks by doing small tasks. That helps us to feel productive, but in reality, we can get a million little things done and not really have anything to show for it ar the end of the day.
- To choose important tasks, go with that which excites you most or that which will have the biggest impact on your work and life. If you can find something that fits both criteria, that’s perfection. Remember that the amount of impact something will have on your life is very important.
- Find your best time as there is no one time that works best for everyone. some times of day are better for getting your important tasks done than others. Set your most important task the night before and the following day, start on your most important task.
- Create a distraction-free workspace and declutter your desk of all unnecessary paperwork (Toss without mercy). Declutter digitally i.e your computer desktop which in most cases is cluttered with icons. Create folders e.g Inbox, Working, Read and Archive. Do your internet research well in advance so that you can unplug from it when working for better concentration. Where possible you can use an internet blocker like freedom.
- Work on one task at a time and avoid a bunch of programs at once. Only have the window(s) open that you need to work on. The best way to plough through an important task is to single task.
- To increase your single-tasking abilities start small, reward yourself, repeat, increase in small steps and keep taking baby steps till you get good at it.
- Small is better when it comes to getting to completion, it’s easier, there is less friction and its less intimidating. Keep things simple, and narrow your focus.
- Identify the fears that cause your procrastination: Fear of the unknown, of being overwhelmed, of too much work, missing out, failure, looking stupid, it will take too much time, of too much choice.
- To beat your fears: examine the fear, commit to beating it, do an experiment and expand the experiment.
Getting to done:
- Focus on every single friction and find a way to reduce or eliminate it. (Identity the frictions such as overwhelm by the number of tasks, distractions, dreading tasks, other people, and instant messaging.)
- Kill choice: e.g. we have access to so much information and entertainment options and possible paths that it’s almost impossible to choose. fewer choices make it easier.
- Put the thing you dread the most at the top of your to-do list.
- Stop and think, then enjoy the process.
- Set up a support and accountability system
- Ignore the inner voice that stops you from getting something done.