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How To Overcome Procrastination

If you’re reading this, it means I’ve overcome the procrastination to write my very first blog post. I bet all of you have at least one thing on your “to do” list that you are putting off. Too many of these little things add up to not getting the results you want.  So whether it’s writing a blog, managing your sales pipeline, or writing a proposal, let’s get that one thing done.

In her Coursera course, “Learning How To Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects,” Dr. Barbara Oakley, Professor of Engineering from the Oakland University, informs us that procrastination is your brain’s way of avoiding pain.  Interestingly enough, it is the anticipation of the task that causes the pain more than actually working on the task. Here are three standout strategies to fight your instinct.

  1. Eating your frogs first refers to the strategy that you should do that one thing you don’t want to do first thing in the day—before you check email, before you get wrapped up in something else. The most important part of any accomplishment is getting started. Today. If you put off eating the frog, it will likely cause you stress you could have otherwise avoided. But in order to get started, it helps to break down the action into less daunting pieces, which is where the Pomodoro method comes in…

  2. The Pomodoro Method is a time management system developed in the 1980’s by Francesco Cirillo. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, and refers to the tomato shaped kitchen timer Cirillo used while in college. When faced with a task you dread, set the kitchen timer (well, iPhone) for 25 minutes and work on your task. Remove all distractions – turn of your phone and notifications so you can focus. Don’t worry about the product of your work effort, only the process. Typically, after 25 minutes, you’ll have the motivation to keep working, at which time, you move on to step three…

  3. Allow Yourself to Get Stuck:  Dr. Oakley recommends you do keep working until you get stuck on something and can’t move forward. She then recommends that you go do something else that requires a different part of the brain—going for a walk, folding laundry, or taking a nap.  While you’re off doing something else, your well-designed brain keeps working on the problem, even though you don’t know it. Chances are good that when you sit down later, kitchen timer in hand, you’ll be further along in your understanding. And if your boss thinks you aren’t working, you can inform them that you are simply enlisting the diffuse mode of your brain, just like Thomas Edison and Salvador Dali, in order to foster deep learning and creativity.

Let us begin.


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