The Tips for Overcoming Procrastination
  1. Make Appointments with Yourself
  2. Stop Before You’re Done
  3. Create Satisfying Episodes
  4. Feel the Endorphins
  5. Use the Power of the Notepad
  6. Reward and Renew Yourself

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5 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination - CrucialSkills, the official VitalSmarts blog

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Make Appointments with Yourself

Behavioral economists have shown that making good choices is easy if you don’t have to act on them now. Hyperbolic discounting — the tendency to overvalue rewards now and undervalue them later.

Be faithful to your calendar; if it says I'm supposed to do something, I tend to do it. So, I look ahead to uncommitted blocks of time and plug in a commitment to focus on a particular task.

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Stop Before You’re Done

When I have long tasks to complete—ones that will require multiple work sessions—I’m careful to stop my work at a place that makes it easier (and more pleasant) for me to pick it back up later.

For example, if I am in a groove and have a story going that I am enjoying writing, I intentionally stop before I finish it so I can look forward to jumping back in.

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Create Satisfying Episodes

Psychologist Roy Baumeister has shown that your motivation is a finite resource. I find this to be especially true in the grind of tasks that are hard to enjoy.

Think of yourself in third person. Rather than forcing Joseph into a writing death march on Monday, I focus on some amount of a task that would feel meaningful and satisfying to complete.

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Feel the Endorphins

Develop a habit of stopping and feeling the earned satisfaction from getting a block of work finished.

This creates new neural connections that associate productivity with pleasure rather than resentment.

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Use the Power of the Notepad

Upon entering a hotel room, I grab the free pad of paper on the desk and make a list of the five things I want to get done before dinner. Then I draw a little empty box next to each.

There is a satisfaction in ticking off the boxes, that motivates to get work done.

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Reward and Renew Yourself

One of the reasons people lose their enthusiasm for being efficient and productive is that it can feel like a relentless grind—there’s always more to do

If I have a lot to get done, I’ll make some reasonable commitments to get things done but I also allow time for renewal before diving back into work

Also, treat yourself as you would a valued employee—give lots of praise and encouragement for the great stuff you get done.

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