Beat stress, focus and kill procrastination with just a timer!

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  • 1. Nishant Jacobnishantj@stanford.edu
  • 2. 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
  • 3. 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
  • 4. 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
  • 5. 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
  • 6. 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.)
  • 7. 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
  • 8. 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
  • 9. 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
  • 10. 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
  • 11. 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
  • 12. Rinse and repeat  Repeat step 3 onwards for the next subtask
  • 13. 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
  • 14. Hang in there  The timing system may feel weird at first But it will quickly feel natural and your efficiency will skyrocket!