zen habits : breathe
The Unprocrastination Challenge for September
BY LEO BABAUTA
This is the month you are going to kick procrastination’s butt.
And no, you can’t read this article later!
We are all victims of procrastination. It chases us around daily, causing us to run from the tasks we really want to get done, run to distraction and busywork and email and … everything but the things that really matter.
Procrastination has been controlling us for too long.
This is the month we take a stand. This is the time we decide to stay instead of avoiding, to focus instead of running.
Are you ready for the Unprocrastination Challenge? Yes, you are. No, you can’t do it later.
I’m issuing this challenge to you today, for the rest of this month.
Here’s how it works:
- Commit publicly (on social media, to your friends, family and coworkers, however you want) to doing this every day for the rest of this month.
- Each day, spend just 5 minutes doing an Unprocrastination Session (see next step).
- Pick an important task to focus on, clear away all distractions, set a timer for 5 minutes, and do nothing but that task.
- You cannot switch tasks during this session. You cannot check on something real quick. You cannot get up to clean something. You can only sit there, with that one task, and either focus on the task or sit there and do nothing.
- When you get the urge to switch tasks, don’t switch. Just stay with the urge. Watch it, let it surge, then let it fade. Return to your task.
- When the timer goes off, success! You can keep going if you want, or take a break and go again, but neither is necessary. Just 5 minutes a day is all that’s required for success.
- Yes, even do your 5-minute sessions on the weekend. Pick a personal project to focus on during those days if you like.
That’s it. Just commit, pick a task every day, set a timer, and do nothing but the task or sit and watch your urge to switch. Pretty simple, right?
What you’ll notice is that you get the urge to switch a lot. That’s normal. These sessions allow you to see the urge, and to face the urge instead of habitually running from them.
What you’ll also notice is that the urge is not a big deal. We run in fear, but really it’s not that scary. It’s no reason to panic. No big deal.
What you might find is that you’re able to get a lot done if you don’t let yourself run. Project will get further than ever. You’ll be on top of your study or work schedule. You’ll get those taxes or dreaded paperwork done. Important work gets done, which is amazing.
I have used this method to get better at focusing, and now do several of these sessions each day. And even more amazing is that I can now deal mindfully with urges to procrastinate on things like exercise, reading, making healthy meals, and more.
No, I’m not cured of procrastination … I don’t think we ever will be. But I now know that each urge is no big deal, and I can focus. That has changed so much for me. You can do it too.
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