Jul 13, 2011

A little progress everyday

I was reading this interesting article on overcoming procrastination. Though I don't procrastinate everything that comes my way, I do procrastinate tasks that are not urgent but important. Time plays a critical role in determining what I decide to do next. As a result, my urgent tasks get processed fine while the important ones get piled up. This article talks about a few important points to overcome procrastination such as
1) Break the project into smaller concrete tasks
2) Treat deadlines as windows of opportunity
3) Create accountability and be committed

But the aha moment occurred to me while reading the final point - "Work on the project a little bit each day". The linked article talks about subconscious information processing.

"once your brain starts working on a problem, it doesn't stop. If you get your mind wrapped around a problem with a fair bit of time left to solve it, the brain will solve the problem subconsciously over time"

How true this statement is! In many of my projects, the steps are not very clear that I can blindly list out them as 1, 2 and 3. There is a fair bit of abstract thought processing and information gathering needed. I do tend to notice that some remarkable ideas to proceed with such projects flash at unknown times - while I'm cooking in the kitchen, taking a shower or random channel surfing on TV.  Because I've been chewing my brain on such  projects, it seems to respond with amazing solutions. I quickly jot down such responses on my whiteboard so they don't get lost.

Though I have noticed such insights from unexpected situations, I didn't try to make much sense of how it happens. But reading this article has helped me become aware of this powerful concept.

One of my traits is that I'm a good finisher and not a good starter. If I start working on a new project or an idea for a few weeks, then I ensure I take it through to completion. But the hard part was to get started. No wonder, I don't have many in the list - "books started but not yet finished"

The practical take-away for me would be this passage in the linked article:

"He explained that I should start working on a project as soon as it was assigned. An hour or so would do fine, he told me. He told me to come back to the project every day for at least a little bit and make progress on it slowly over time."

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