Why read this article instead of one by a productivity coach? Simple: I get you, bro. I procrastinated on writing this article by researching (read: randomly browsing the internet) on beating procrastination. Hence I was able to trial the techniques suggested by productivity gurus to accomplish this article. Here's what I have learned.
The To-do List aka the Procrastination Planner
Make detailed to-do lists of things you want to accomplish along with deadlines for completing each task.
To-do lists are suitable for remembering chores, not preventing procrastination. Every time I attempted to follow my schedule I kept postponing the writing because of insurmountable obstacles like construction noises or cat gifs that needed my attention right then. I even tried breaking the work into small chunks and then making a to-do list (the Swiss cheese method). Fail. My rationale was if I were to start writing the article, I might as well finish it. But finishing it would take time, so I opted for relaxation until I was in the creative zone. Nevertheless I think the Swiss cheese method could work for achieving long-term goals like learning to play an instrument for instance.
The Reward/ Punishment System, winner of Mother's Choice Award
Reward yourself for accomplishing a task by eating your favourite snack or watching your favourite TV show. Punish yourself for not getting your task done by maybe paying some money to a trusted friend.
Come on, if I had the self-restraint to actually impose the reward/ punishment system on myself I would not be procrastinating in the first place. So I am just going to munch on that Twix now and perhaps start the article later.
The Pomodoro Method
Work for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break; work for another 25 minutes and take another 5 minute break and so on, over time increasing your work period while taking breaks less frequently.
The prospect of breaks helped me get started on this article. However my advice: do not go to YouTube or social media during the 5 minute break. Instead drink some water, do a few pushups, relax to your favourite soundtrack or tick off your sibling with a casual poke.
Apps don't apply
Seriously, since I am in control of the apps I just end up enabling my procrastination. If you really want to cut off the distractions just turn off the WiFi and put your phone on silent; no need to get a fancy app. If you're following the Pomodoro Method, you can use the 5 minute break to check your missed calls. Do NOT get sucked into idle WhatsApp banter during the 5 minute break.
Personally I struggle with procrastination because I know I can still get the work done (haphazardly so) in the last minute. I also indulge in too many fantasies about what I could do and the desired outcomes instead of doing the work itself. In the end you have to remember you are choosing procrastination over labour. To help you choose the labour, list reasons for wanting to do the work and try to genuinely enjoy what you're learning or doing.
“It is not really work if you are having fun.” – Pierre Omidyar