Procrastinator’s pipe dream

Part one: 15 minute slivers

Every procrastinator I have met (myself included) talks about wanting to ‘get things done’ and to stop ‘faffing’. Recently this faffer (not to be confused with a fluffer who definitely gets things done) may have learnt a great tool in the battle of the mind. For many this is a pipe dream because we get overwhelmed or distracted when working on ourselves, tasks or larger projects. In this multi part post I’d like to explore what we can do in order to become more productive and fulfilled in our lives. If you are not prone to daydreaming about Orcas and starting 8 different books don’t fear! You too may find interest in these ramblings.

On a recent catchup my friend Ben told me about a different approach to tasks and projects if you struggle with getting started. Rather than finding time to getting things done in one sitting, you instead commit to smaller ‘slithers’ of time. This could be 15 minutes as in the title or any time that you have in your day where you can focus wholeheartedly on one task. You begin by looking at your calendar to find space in your day, then create an appointment to work solely on one task without distraction or interruption. You may not complete tasks in that allocated time slither, but that is not the idea, it is all about getting started. Once you get the ball rolling it all becomes easier (said the fluffer to the actor).

This method can be helpful for procrastinators that don’t start due to task overwhelm. Many of you may have felt the anxiety created by imagining the whole task and all that it entails. Instead of thinking about the end goal you can instead break it into smaller time based goals. Your goal shouldn’t be ‘I will complete this task’, it should be ‘today I can commit one hour to working on that project’. There is a flaw to this method however. If you are not planning ahead then you can get overwhelmed by just ‘going with the flow’ and trying it out on the day. I recommend sitting down once or twice a week to put some realistic time aside when you can work on your tasks or projects. Then during the week have a brief catchup with yourself and see how you a progressing and whether you need to change anything. This will help you to assess how you are doing, pat yourself on the back when you get things done and adjust things if you need to.

I personally find time at the weekend to look at the week ahead and plot time in my diary for tasks and jobs. I won’t tell you that I stick to it religiously, because I am a faffer, but I get a lot more done than if I try and think about it all on the day. Going with the flow isn’t nearly as relaxing as having some kind of plan when you have a long to-do list! (My wife will be celebrating at seeing me write this!) You will be surprised how much you achieve when you have these weekly slots laid out, even when you don’t get all of it done. I’d wager at least $20 that it is a lot more than if you just relied on your mind each day to complete tasks.

For now I am going to leave it there because I want to expand on this method in the following parts. Writing about this got me thinking about motivation and drive, so we will look at that together next time.

Until then happy slithering,

Tom :)