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This sound familiar ? Start doing an assignment and lose focus in the first few minutes Your mind starts wandering, you lose interest Take a break, when you get back, can’t really focus So you take another break
Here’s what’s going on Lack of clear tasks to work on at any given moment Time starts to bleed, tasks take longer than they should Focusing for too long, kills productivity A vicious procrastination cycle starts
How to break the cycle Make the task you’re working on very clear Keep the task timed and super short (2-3 min) Try and beat the time Have fixed, small, time goals for planning and reflecting between tasks and creating your next task
Why does this work ? Causes you to focus effort fully in short bursts Makes it interesting - trying to beat the clock Increase efficiency - move on to the next task Get it down on paper instead of in your head
Getting Started Grab a countdown timer A blank paged notebook (any notebook will do) A pen A few behavior anchors (headphones, pencil to chew on, gum, water to sip, reading glasses etc.)
Step 1 Set the timer for 3 min Use the 3 min to break up your work in basic tasks Keep an eye on the clock and beat the time Stop when the time is up! Example: Project: Making these slides Basic tasks Pick Topic Brainstorm Make Slides
Step 2 Set the timer for 3 min again Use the 3 min to fill in subtasks for each task Be extremely specific, each sub task should require 3 min of work - if needed, apply this step to the subtasks Example: Pick Topic Make Slides - Brainstorm topics - Mindmap slide topics - Shortlist topics - Order slide topics - Pick one - Make a list of slides - Make slide 1 Brainstorm ….. - Mindmap around topic - List top ideas - Pick one idea
Step 3 Set the timer for 2 min to plan out the first subtask In the 2 min scribble down what you need to do for the subtask and what outcome you want by the end Keep the outcome concrete and it should be manageable with 3 min of work – make it really small Example: Brainstorm Topics - want 3 topic ideas - in the area of procrastination - with a focus on time management
Step 4 Set timer for 3 min Do the subtask you planned out Try and get to the key deliverable – it doesn’t have to be perfect! Keep an eye on the clock – try and beat the time Example: Topics: - timer system - take breaks every 5 min - work for long chunks of time
Step 5 Set the timer for 1 min Reflect on the task you just did Do you need another 3 min? or is it good enough Scribble down anything you learnt from the task and thoughts on the next task Example: Reflection: - The idea about a timing system seems promising
Rinse and repeat Repeat step 3 onwards for the next subtask
Points to remember Be consistent! Time planning, doing and reflecting Take a 3 min break after doing 3 subtasks If you feel like a subtask didn’t get done, and if you really need another 3 min. do it! Always keep an eye on the clock, the clock is king! Always listen to the same type of music and chew the same gum/pencil when using the timing system
Hang in there The timing system may feel weird at first But it will quickly feel natural and your efficiency will skyrocket!