Take five minutes. Just five. Set a timer. If you’re on the couch or in bed, look to see the closest surface to you. It’s probably the coffee table or your nightstand. For those five minutes, just focus on that one surface. Clear it off, throw stuff away, maybe even dust it. So when your five minutes is done and you’re back in bed, you have one clear surface to look at. You have an accomplishment to focus on. You did something. You don’t have to do everything. – Unf*** Your Habitat: The Depression/Messy House Cycle
Setting a timer to get started is a very motivating way to work. If the world is falling down around you (or feels like it) and you have what seems like three week’s worth of work to do in one afternoon, it can seem much easier to just hide in a comfy chair or the safe place inside the computer. That’s how it is to me anyway. Or sometimes you just honestly can’t be bothered.
Either way, try setting a timer for a small chunk of time, and promising yourself to concentrate on one area or one task for that amount of time. Merlin Mann calls this “Running a dash”
You might choose 2 minutes, or 5 minutes, or 11, or 15.
Once you get started (the laptop is put away, you’re on your feet, you’re doing things) it’s easier to keep going, just until the timer goes off. Then you can stop, and you’re ahead of where you were.
If you have a series of tasks to do, once you’re on a roll, you might want to alternate timed “working” blocks with timed “relaxing” blocks. You can do this anyway you like, of course.
- Leo Babauta’s Favourite Procrastination Hack is a 30 minute work chunk /10 minutes play.
- UnF*** My Habitat goes with 20 minutes/10 minutes.
- The FlyLady’s “Crisis Cleaning” mode goes with 3 x 15 minute chunks, followed by a 15 minute break.
- HabitHacker points out that if you work in 11 minute chunks, you can do two of those in a row and then an 8 minute break, and it adds up to a neat half-hour.
- Merlin Mann suggests doing 10 minutes work followed by a 2 minute break. Repeating times five, for an hour’s work.
Pick a time that feels good to you and suits the time you have available. Work for that time. Stop for a cup of tea when the timer goes off. It’s as easy (and as difficult) as that.