Finally, I’ve published a blog post. For years I’ve procrastinated, promising myself that I will do something special, something flashy and original with this website. All of these things, these bells and whistles that I imagined were stopping me from doing what needed to be done, were just easy excuses not to get on with it. It seems apt therefore that this post should be about procrastination.
As I’ve become more familiar with agile and lean, I’ve learned to accept that its ok to ship early. It’s OK to leave some features to later, it’s OK to revisit and improve. It’s ok to have a blog that doesn’t shout “I AM CREATIVE!”
I even spent 10 minutes looking for a simple clean WordPress theme – STOP IT. START IT!
So here it is, here is my MVP; My minimal viable post.
From speaking with my friends and colleagues, I realise that I’m not the only one that is afflicted with procrastination. I’ve learned to deal with my condition over the years and I thought I’d share a few tools and ideas that I’ve found to help
- Don’t schedule, time box. There’s an instinctive habit to think that scheduling something down to the exact day makes us more likely to do it. In reality, I’ve found whilst scheduling a task gives me some immediate relief, feeling that I’ve done something about something that needs doing, I’ll often have to spend more time rescheduling and postponing, leaving me with a sense of guilt and failure. Instead of scheduling, try starting with a promise to get a number of things done in a timebox. For example; take the 10 most pressing tasks you have and commit to finishing them in a 5 day timebox. I use trello to organise my tasks. I have 5 lists; Someday, This month, This week, Today and Done. I set my default homepage at home and at work to be trello, so before I get a chance to procrastinate on Feedly, Facebook or twitter, I get a reminder of what I’ve committed to get done this week.
- Perfectionism, the half-brother of procrastination. If we all waited until every aspect of what we do was perfect we’d get very little done. It’s ok to compromise at times, it’s ok to forgive yourself for not being 100% happy with your creation. Clearly this is subjective; I would never encourage a surgeon to take this approach in surgery. I’m not saying be slap-dash or half-arsed in what you do. I’m saying be practical; if what you’ve done so far is better shipped now than not at all, then ship it, but add another task to your backlog to revisit and cross those T’s.
- Openly Commit. Tell people that you’re going to get it done. It sounds simple, but telling others that you ARE going to get X done today is a powerful motivator. No one likes having to say I didn’t do what I said i would do. I’m a father and it’s important that I follow through with what I commit to. Kids don’t forget. Kids expect things to happen when they’re promised.
- Accept your habits. Most of us take part in activities that get in the way of getting things done. Watching TV, Surfing the web, Browsing Facebook, playing that addictive game. If you can’t quit these habits (or you don’t want to), give these habits some dedicated time. In our house a Wednesday is habit day, everything is allowed.
These are just a few things that I’ve found help me deal with my chronic procrastination. They may not help everyone, but it’s a start, it’s not a perfect list, but its a start.