The next is the MIT Method. That doesn t stand for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but rather most important task method.

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1 Welcome to the Week Two lesson. Techniques for Procrastination Procrastination is a major problem. You don t need me to tell you that. Chances are you probably feel like if you could eliminate all the times you procrastinate you d be able to get tons more done, you d have less stress, your life would generally be a lot better. In this lesson I'm going to cover three tactics you can try to defeat procrastination. These are going to be tools you're going to have in your toolbox so when you notice yourself procrastinating, you're telling yourself, I m really procrastinating. I m not doing what I want to do, I want you to try out these three techniques. The first is the Pomodoro Technique. The next is the MIT Method. That doesn t stand for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but rather most important task method. And finally Endurance Targets. Lastly I'm going to talk about the difference between normal and deep procrastination, and what to do about it if you find yourself in the latter situation. The Pomodoro Technique Let s jump right in. The Pomodoro Technique is named for the Italian word for tomato, because supposedly the inventor had a kitchen timer that looked like a tomato that he used this technique for. It s a simple idea. You set the timer for 20 or 25 minutes. After that you can take a five minute break. Then you just repeat these, as many as you need to, to get your task done. The real advantage of the Pomodoro Technique is that it s pretty easy to commit to 20 or 25 minutes of work. It s easy to say to yourself, I m procrastinating, I don t want to get started working, but let s commit to working for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, I can take a break. You set the timer, you work for 20 minutes, and I think the other advantage of the Pomodoro Technique is that it s a little bit like a miniaturized weekly/daily goals. The daily goals operate on this daily basis where you have all the things that you're trying to do in the day and then once you ve done those things, you're done. There s a motivation to get it finished. Unfortunately the day is still long. It can feel like you're procrastinating in a day even though you have this daily goal. Whereas the Pomodoro Technique is something that s even smaller. It s not trying to think about all the work you have to do, but rather it s saying, Work for 25 minutes. If you can work for 25 minutes, then when you're done you can take a break. Don t worry about it. In fact, you have to take a break after 25 minutes. You're not allowed to keep working. That is the way the technique works, because you're making this small commitment and repeating as needed. 1 of 5

2 I know a lot of people who break their work out into Pomodoros, and they say, From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. I'm going to be doing eight Pomodoros in that time. That is something I think can be valuable for you in your studies, because it s something you can apply immediately. Where you use it is when you're struggling with procrastination. Tell yourself you're going to do a Pomodoro, and then break. The Most Important Task Method What if you're having longer periods of procrastination? It s not so much that you need help getting started, but you find that you're kind of sluggish. You're not getting started on things when you want to in the day. You're not at the crack, getting things started. I recommend the Most Important Task Method. This method forces you to identify your most important task of the day. If you're making a paper list with your daily goals, I recommend circling or underlining the most important task. This task must be the first thing you work on in the morning every day. Ideally it should be something that you start working on probably within half an hour of waking up. The idea here is that you don t waste time. You immediately start working on your most important task of the day, and that is the first thing that you get done. By doing this method, you're going to prevent yourself from procrastinating by doing less important work items. It's easy to start your day and say, I m going to answer s for a little bit. I ll go on and check what s new on Reddit. Let s go do some of these things. I think for some people that s OK if you do a little bit of that and then you get started with work, but if you find yourself having a hard time getting into gear, getting started with work, then the Most Important Task Method puts things into focus. You start working very soon after you wake up on your most important task of the day. Then when you're done, carrying that momentum further in the day is much, much easier. Instead of having the habit of, OK, let s try to be productive all day, you try to focus on that initial starting point, working on the most important task and working on it early. Once you get this day started, it ll be easy to carry it forward with productive momentum and energy. Endurance Targets Endurance targets are a little different. In these other things we ve been talking about getting started, getting started when you're in the middle of the day and you found you've been procrastinating and you want to switch into working or within the Most Important Task Method you are starting your day and you want to go from being a sluggish start to the day to a more powerful start to your day. Endurance targets deal with the opposite problem. Sometimes when you're working you will be overcome with this urge to distract yourself, to go on Facebook, to go check your cell phone, to take a little break, to take a nap, to go do something else. Because it s hard. Working is hard. You want to take a break and stop doing it. 2 of 5

3 This can happen for me, for instance, this happens frequently when I have writer s block. I ll have to be writing a new article and I will be sitting and staring at that blank Word document and it s just painful. Sometimes it feels like, Ugh. I want to do anything else other than stare at this document, because I don t have any ideas. I can t write anything right now. Nothing s coming to my head. This is the situation where I use endurance targets all the time. I think it s also something you can do if you're doing difficult problem sets, for example, and you're not doing them well. You're getting a lot of questions wrong. That discouragement can make you feel like, I want to get over this. I don t want to keep doing this. Avoiding distraction can be hard in these moments of temptation. The solution here is to set an achievable endurance target. An example of that is when I'm writing, for instance, what I might do is I might look at the clock and it says it s 12 minutes to the hour, so I'm going to keep working until exactly 10 a.m. and if I still haven t gotten any progress, I still feel like I need to take a break, I can take a break. Or you can say, Another 15 minutes on this problem set. If in 15 minutes I still feel like I need to take a break, I can take a break. The power here is that recognizing that very often that the temptations for distraction, the things that are pulling you away from work are momentary, they re fleeting, they re these momentary feelings that you don t want to do something. If your first response is, This is really hard. This is going to be hard 10 minutes from now. This is going to be hard an hour from now. I can t possibly keep doing this. Let s take a break right now. If that s your response to it, you're going to take breaks often. If your response is instead to say, Let s just go for another 10 minutes. If after 10 minutes I still feel like taking a break, then let s take a break. By setting these endurance targets you're going to get over those momentary distractions and you're going to take breaks when you actually need them. The advantage of these endurance targets is that if you are setting reasonable ones, and reasonable meaning you have this strong urge to stop, but you set yourself to push for another 10 minutes or 15 minutes, something short, not something like, I m going to push myself for another two hours. That might be OK if the break you're contemplating was to quit for the entire evening, but if we re just talking about momentary distraction that might eventually turn into procrastination, then I think setting short endurance targets are going to be a good way of bypassing a lot of that false temptation, these momentary fleeting feelings that you need to stop working. Deep Procrastination Procrastination is going to be an issue always. I m not saying that these techniques are going to 100 percent eliminate them for you, but I m saying they re options that will help you deal with the issue of procrastination. It s not possible to be 100 percent avoiding procrastination all the time. Everyone procrastinates, everyone suffers from it, and it s something that you're going to have to cope with. You're going to have to develop systems to try to mitigate its effects. 3 of 5

4 I like the productivity tools that we discussed here. I think that having a project, which we did in Week One and having weekly/daily goals is an even more powerful tool, an even further reaching tool to avoid procrastination, but these tools that we talked about this week can fix smaller issues. However, these tools can t fix deep problems in your life. If you're having deep issues with why you're working, you have deep problems with your motivation, then these tools are not going to help. Deep procrastination occurs when you know you're working on the wrong goals in your life. You're pursuing a direction that you don t want to be going down. Because you're going down this direction that you don t want to go down you don t feel like you want to study this major. You don t feel like you want to have this degree. You don t feel like you want to be working in this profession anymore. When you feel that procrastination, that s going to be coming from a different place than just momentary temptation and insufficiency of your systems. I want to clarify that I think deep procrastination is different from lack of motivation. A lot of people say, I don t have any motivation, or I lack motivation. Sometimes this is just a problem of not actually thinking through your goals. Setting your goals, setting your weekly and daily to do lists. Those kinds of things, if you are pursuing the right goals, if you are going down the right direction, they are going to motivate you, because every week you're going to remind yourself, Yeah, this is what I need to be doing. This is what I want to be doing. I want to be working toward this goal. I want to be accomplishing it. Let s do it this week. Let s do it today. The motivation issue is reminding yourself of those and getting over those obstacles. However if you have a subconscious desire not to go in the direction you're going, then you're going to procrastinate for a different reason. You're going to procrastinate because you don t want to succeed at this goal. You don t want to go down this path that you're going down, so you're going to unconsciously sabotage yourself, maybe to avoid having to make a hard decision to reflect on what the situation is in your life. Instead, you're going to procrastinate so that you fail, so that you don t have to go down this path because you weren t able to do it. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to this. There isn t a way that I can say, Do this five minute technique and you're going to overcome major life issues. If I did that, it would be highly disingenuous of me. Deep procrastination is something that requires reflection and introspection. I recommend if you think this is what s happening to you, if you ask yourself, Am I procrastinating because I don t want to be working in this? I don t want to succeed in these goals or go down this direction? If that s how you feel about it, I recommend taking an afternoon off to think, to journal and write about your feelings about your work so that you can try to bring some of these things to the surface so they re not subconscious, that they re conscious things you're dealing with. Often when you encounter these situations you may discover that even though you want to make a change in the medium term. For the short term right now, it s best for you to continue on the direction you're going, and if that s how you feel about it, then you might have to grind through this temporary, momentary situation that you find yourself. 4 of 5

5 However you might be in a situation where once you do this reflection, you realize, This other thing is a much better path for me. I d feel much better if I were doing a different goal, working on a different major, studying a different subject, working in a different profession, doing something like that. Once you start making those goals, once you start having the correct goals that align with what you want out of life, now it s a lot easier to solve these procrastination problems. Summary Let s summarize what we re talking about here. Do you have momentary procrastination? How do you deal with it s 2 p.m. on a Monday and you're not working, you're watching Netflix. How do you get over it? Set a Pomodoro. Tell yourself you're going to work for a short period of time, and then after that you're totally allowed to take a break. That s the way to get out of it. Don t start with huge commitments, start smaller. Because it s the bigness of commitments. It s the feeling of, I don t want to spend three hours working on this obstacle. That s what gets you over it. Next, slow start your day? Do you find that on a regular basis you're sluggish to get started? Use the Most Important Task Method. Set your most important task in the morning, and start working there. Are you quick to give in to distractions? When you're working on things does a little bit of failure, a little bit of frustration, a little bit of boredom quickly have you looking at your phone? Quickly have you going on Facebook or surfing Reddit or going and chatting with a friend? If that s the case for you, set endurance targets. Pick a target 10, 15 minutes in advance and tell yourself, If you still feel this way when that time comes around, then you can take a short break. Finally if nothing seems to help. If you seem to be procrastinating a lot, not just a little bit, and you can t seem to get yourself through it, none of these methods work setting a project, setting weekly/daily goals, Pomodoros, MIT Method, Endurance Targets then there s a good chance you might have deep procrastination. I highly recommend that you set aside several hours to journal and think about what your goals are in life and are you aligned with the things you want to be working on? If you're not, if you don t have that motivation, you're not aligned with what you're working on, then doing this reflection can sometimes help you get on track. It can help you identify, I d rather be doing this. Even if you decide, I don t like what I'm doing right now, but in the overall scheme of things I still want to pursue this path, just having that reflection can sometimes quell some of the doubts you feel. In any case, there is no easy solution to deep procrastination, but identifying it and realizing it might be the problem is the first step to solving it. If you keep it buried underneath, you're never going to be able to fix it. 5 of 5

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