Defeating the Procrastination Monster – Part 1

By June 1, 2015 Productivity No Comments

Introduction: The Things You Care About Doing But Haven’t Gotten Around To…

====5-PART SERIES=====
Introduction: The Things You Care About Doing But Haven’t Gotten Around To…
Framework 1: Tackle Big Dreams, Eliminate Overwhelm, and Prevent Disappointment with Bottom-Up Goals and the MIT System
Framework 2: Eliminate Distractions with a Flow-Friendly Schedule
Framework 3: Knock Out Tasks That Are Difficult to Start by Following the 15 Minute Rule
Framework 4: Kill Burnout, Low Mojo, and Over-Productivity with Purposefully Pointless Play
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Do you have work or goals that you care about, are passionate about, and want to do…but can’t get yourself to start?

Most of us have set goals or made to-do lists at one point or other. There is something frustrating about these goals, though.

There is at least one goal that never gets accomplished. The one that is really important but doesn’t see any progress, and you keep bumping it from month to month, year to year.

That was my problem a few years ago. It came as a surprise. At university, I experienced one of the most productive phases in my life. Upon retrospect, it was due to a combination of being good at following directions, the external structure from assignments, tests, and grades in school, and the watchful eyes of bosses at work.

It was only after leaving university that I realized how unproductive I was when left to my own devices, after opting out of the traditional career path of college → job → better job → retirement. For the first time, I had the freedom to do work that I was *passionate* about, and *wanted* to do…and still failed to get anything done.

Every morning I would wake up, open my laptop, pump myself up with my life goals, and resolve to do my work. 8 hours later, I was no closer to finishing than I was in the morning.

Has this ever happened to you?

Over the course of 3 years, I experimented with ways to stay motivated and on track with my goals…without using external pressure from a manager, team, customers, or friends and family. I tried everything from quitting Facebook and other time sinks, to analyzing my habits, tracking everything I did with my time 24/7, the Getting Things Done system, anti-distraction tools like RescueTime, working in focused sprints with Pomodoros, reading blogs like Zen Habits, tracking daily and weekly tasks on a spreadsheet, and even breaking down the concept of “productivity” into a mathematical formula.

Obviously, none of these methods would make anyone go from lazy bum to productive superhero overnight. That said, I managed to accomplish several professional and personal goals in the last 3 months:

Write a book from scratch, totaling 20,000 words.

Develop and give 3 public speaking presentations.

Learn to surf from scratch to an intermediate level (riding 3-5 foot green waves).

Read 7 non-fiction books from start to finish.

Maintain an active social life (3-5 events per week).

Hard for some to believe, these were done during a retreat to the tropics of Bali (where I met some of you!), among free spirited yogis, laid-back surfers, Australian backpackers “on holiday”, and many other distractions abound. In this environment, I could have easily fallen into a pattern of going to yoga, dances, drinks, and other activities for my entire stay. However, with productivity techniques in place, I managed to do more than ever.

Although there are no silver bullets for productivity, the following series of emails you will be receiving in the next few weeks will include the most impactful frameworks for my productivity and overall happiness.

These frameworks are especially relevant for people who are working on their own projects and need to keep themselves motivated in the long term before they get customers, readers, fans, investors, team members, or other natural sources of accountability.

So to start, I’m curious…

What would you do with your time if you didn’t procrastinate, ever?