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She Said / He Said

Zen and the Art of Procrastination

I don’t know Leo Babauta from zenhabits.net, but he apparently has cameras in my apartment and a psychic connection into my brain…


procrastination-flowchartYour first thought as you look at this article will be, “I’ll read this later.”
But don’t. Let the urge to switch to a new task pass. Read this now.

It’ll take you two minutes. It’ll save you countless hours.

I’ve written the book on ending procrastination, but I’ve since come up with a very simple technique for beating everyone’s favorite nemesis. It is incredibly easy, but as with anything, it takes a little practice.

Try it now:

Identify the most important thing you have to do today.

Decide to do just the first little part of it — just the first minute, or even 30 seconds of it. Getting started is the only thing in the world that matters.

Clear away distractions. Turn everything off. Close all programs. There should just be you, and your task.

Sit there, and focus on getting started. Not doing the whole task, just starting.

Pay attention to your mind, as it starts to have urges to switch to another task. You will have urges to check email or Facebook or Twitter or your favorite website. You will want to play a game or make a call or do another task. Notice these urges.

But don’t move. Notice the urges, but sit still, and let them pass. Urges build up in intensity, then pass, like a wave. Let each one pass.

Notice also your mind trying to justify not doing the task. Also let these self-rationalizing thoughts pass.

Now just take one small action to get started. As tiny a step as possible.

Get started, and the rest will flow.

– Leo Babauta, zenhabits.net (“Best Procrastination Tip Ever”, August 29, 2011)


Sound familiar to anyone?

I first read this post on Zen Habits in 2011.  It has stuck with me ever since.

Procrastination is easily the number one reason I don’t have more free time.  If I were able to sit down and simply start a task, I can usually knock it out quite quickly.  If I came home each night and did that, I’d have a much shorter to-do list.  Yes, I over-commit.  I take on too many projects.  However, if I didn’t procrastinate, my life would not feel nearly as crazed as it usually does.  Why?  Because stuff would get done, and it wouldn’t take a deadline to get me to do it.  Things would no longer be so rushed, which is what creates my sense of stress.  So why do I procrastinate?

I’m still working on the answer to that one. I have some ideas, but I need to finish sorting them out. I’ll do that later…

Without question, technology has made it easier to procrastinate. When I used to write papers on a typewriter, I wasn’t distracted by email and Facebook and solitaire games and online shopping. It was just me, the typewriter, and the paper. I’m sure I still procrastinated, but darned if I can remember how!

Take this article, for example. Sitting down and writing it has literally taken me 17 minutes. I know because I just went back and looked at the last thing I posted on Facebook, which is the last thing I did before starting writing, and it was posted 17 minutes ago.

It would appear that my pal Leo might be on to something with this “just get started” thing…

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