May 16, 2022

How to beat procrastination

laptop clock pen and penholders on a desk in black and white

What task is on your list that you keep deferring?

The 15-minute method is a way to help overcome inertia and get moving on a task. It’s basically a psychological trick, and it’s very simple.

Prepare your environment in advance. Set out all the materials you’ll need to work on your task for 15 minutes. For those 15 minutes, focus single-mindedly on the task at hand, and do nothing else. Don’t get up for any reason (unless the building catches fire 🙂 If you’re working on your computer, don’t open any applications but the essential ones. If the phone rings, let it go to voicemail. If a text message comes in, let it wait. Don’t even think about checking your email or Facebook. If someone pops in and asks, “Do you have a minute?” tell them to come back later.

Work quickly during this time. Focus on speed. Try to make as much progress on your task as humanly possible. If distracting thoughts come up, say to yourself, “Focus! Focus! Focus!” Then ask yourself, “What’s the very next step?”

First… it helps you overcome inertia and gets you moving forward productively. No matter how unpleasant the task may seem, it isn’t that difficult to commit to working on it for only 15 minutes.

Second… it gets you past those “I don’t know what to do” excuses. You can easily figure out what to do for 15 minutes. If you really don’t know how to begin, write down the problem as though you are explaining it to a novice. Figure out the next step, or call someone to ask for advice. You only have to figure out 15 minute’s worth of the task to get started!

Third… it keeps you focused. You’re compelled to make a clear distinction between real work vs. distractions. You can’t delude yourself into thinking that web surfing or checking email is working. When you use the 15-minute method, you’re getting real work done.

Unless, of course, you can’t be………….

My best wishes, Paul

Paul Matthews

CEO and Founder of People Alchemy

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