Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Here's another tool to help you defeat procrastination.
Let's say you have an important writing project hanging over your head. A ten-page term paper due in three days, or a 5,000-word magazine article that you can't seem to start.

Instead of sitting down to the intimidating and disheartening task of writing the entire paper, try this: allocate exactly half an hour to the project. Not a minute more. Tell yourself it's only for half an hour. Then I can quit.

This is a variation of the just start method, but with the added incentive that you get to stop. Soon. It doesn't seem like such a monumental task now, does it? How hard is it to sit down for 30 minutes and write when you've already given yourself permission to stop after the 30 minutes is up?

But most of the time you won't stop. That's the secret to timeboxing. In those 30 minutes, you'll have made a dent in your project, perhaps even a big dent. And you might see an easy solution to other aspects of the writing task now that you've made that first dent in the project. And yet there is no pressure on you whatsoever, because you can quit at any time.

Before you know it, a task that once seemed too immense to start begins melting away before your eyes.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, 90% of the battle is just showing up to your writing session.