I have tried several different tools and approaches to overcome my procrastination and do stuff that I want to do. After several years I found that several quite “easy” steps work quite well. They are no miracle recipe and it may not work for you. It took a long time until I have adjusted to this approach. But I find it quite effective. Here it is.
Write everything down
Well. I do not mean everything. Just the stuff you want to do. Even if it is trivial. Even if you think “I won’t definitely forget about this”. And do this in one “place”. Do you ask why?
We are humans and we forget a lot. I am sure that you have experienced it more than once. You are lying in your bed and have a great idea. But you think it can wait until morning. And next morning you know you have had an idea, but you cannot remember what it was.
It is also important to keep all of it in one place. Do not use your email as a ToDo list. Or your messenger. Everything that comes to you must end up in one place. It does not matter if it is paper notebook, Google doc, Evernote or something else. I personally use Trello.
Break it down
Break every task down into pieces, which will take no longer than 30 minutes (or 1 hour in special cases). It is easier to do small task than a big one and it is also easier to find time to do a task that lasts 30 minutes than a task that you have no idea how long it will take to finish.
Do not worry, if you do not know how to break task down at the beginning. You know what you need to do first, so you just need to create first task that will take 1 hour at most.
Also, do not be scared if you do not finish in the time you have thought. That happens. Simply keep the task for another session or break it down even more if you have found out it will take longer than 1 hour.
Put it into calendar
If you do not use calendar, start right now. And put everything that you do in there. I do not care how mundane it is. Cleaning teeth, showering, traveling to work, work itself or going out to movies or drinking with friends.
If you do this, you will immediately see what spare time do you have. And you can utilize it better. Do you travel to work by public transport? You can use this time to read, listen to podcasts or respond to emails.
And now that you have your tasks separated into blocks that take no longer than 1 hour, you can easily find time in your calendar to do them.
Be prepared to throw stuff out
This is a big one. After you fill out your calendar you will immediately notice that you have a lot less spare time that you have thought. Do not panic.
Just prioritize. Do the stuff that you need and want to do first, throw out stuff that you do not have time to do. It is that “simple”.
Do not give up
These steps seems simple and they are, but it will take time to adjust to it. Main reason for procrastination is, that you think you have time. After filling out your calendar and finding out how much time you actually have, you will feel more pressure. But do not worry.
After time you will learn what you really want and need to do and what is just stuff that you were telling yourself you will do “someday”. And it is a freeing feeling.
There is a Czech saying “The art of living is to know, what to forget about earlier.”