My Tips on Procrastination
Procrastination is the siren’s call of academia. We know we need to get writing; our livelihoods depend upon it. But then we walk down the hall to look for snacks or coffee.
This piece from The Atlantic describes what’s really happening when we procrastinate and how to stop. Solutions are found in reframing one’s mood, sense of urgency, and sources of deadlines. The suggestions resonated with me since I’m constantly tinkering with my work processes.
Here are some things I do to keep from procrastinating, along with Write or Die, which I plan to try soon:
- Use a white board. It’s a prioritized to-do list, made fun via markers and erasers. Not fancy, but a key step to my next strategy.
- Pomodoro. The Pomodoro Method involves chunking your work time, and staying refreshed via frequent breaks. I use an timer in my Chrome App Launcher that allows me to list goal tasks and how many 25 minute intervals I expect them to take. I take a 5 minute break between intervals, with a longer break after a few intervals. Taking these breaks really does keep me more pointed during “on” time.
- Create accountability. I’ve begun using Asana to track the work of research assistants — as well as to make them assign me tasks and deadlines. It sends me reminders when those deadlines aren’t being met. I like the idea of using the team to hold myself accountable.
- Chunk my articles. My favorite tip from this great video on “How to write an article in no time.”
- StayFocused. In my Chrome browser, I have StayFocused, which limits my time on certain time sucking websites (e.g., Facebook).
- Stand up. I have an adjustable standing desk. Sometimes standing helps with creativity. Sometimes sitting is a reward for meeting a small goal. It gets me into a flow.
- Try not to let the spiders kill me! Actually, my friend and colleague, Jo Beth Jimerson, told me about this one last night. I haven’t had the chance to try it. From what I understand, Write or Die is a program that will begin to kill your screen with creepy crawly spiders, etc. if you don’t make your preset writing goals. It looks like they’ve also built in some positive reinforcements as well.