The Unprocrastination Plan

Post written by Leo Babauta.

This month, we’ll be developing some Unprocrastination Habits. These are small, simple habits that will help you get good at beating procrastionation.

Here are the habits (more on each below):

Habit 1: Picking a Most Important Task each morning. Related habit: Notice when you’re not working on this task, avoiding it, and perhaps why.

Habit 2: The Start. Develop the habit of starting. Become aware when you resist starting.

Habit 3: The Pause. Learn to pause when you get the urge to procrastinate. Watch and let go of your fears and irrational beliefs around procrastination.

The Plan

  1. During the first week (Feb. 1-7), just focus on Habit 1 — Most Important Task, or MIT. So pick an MIT every morning, write it down. Should only take 2 minutes. This is the task you should start your day with — pay yourself first, before answering email or checking on other things for other people. Report on your forum — to your accountability group and/or to the forum in general, each day after you do your habit for the day, even if you didn’t do the habit. Not just for this week, but every week.
  2. Don’t worry about not procrastinating on your MIT for the first week. Just watch yourself if you do start to procrastinate. Notice when you’re not working on your MIT (or if you finished the MIT, if you’re not working on your next most important task). Bonus: write down why you’re not working on it.
  3. In the second week (Feb. 8-14), focus on Habit 2 — The Start. You should still pick your MIT, but focus on starting. You don’t need to do the whole task, just start. It should take one minute, in addition to the 2 minutes of picking and writing down your MIT. If you want to do more than starting — you want to keep going — that’s fine, but not required. Report on the forum each day.
  4. In the third week (Feb. 15-21), focus on Habit 3 — The Pause. After you start your MIT, watch yourself have the urge to procrastinate, then pause. Don’t act on the urge, but just watch it. Watch the urge get stronger, then fade. Breathe. Return to your task. Repeat. Report on the forum.
  5. In the last week+ (Feb. 22-28), you’ll continue to practice the three habits, and develop heightened awareness. This week you’ll be working on repetition (the key to forming habits), and remembering to watch your procrastination urges and causes. What are the fears? What are the irrational beliefs? Take a minute to look at them, when you notice them, and beat them with rationality. Also watch what pulls you away — are you hooked on email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, news, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram? Find a way to change your environment by blocking or removing these addictive distractions, so you don’t have to deal with them.

That’s the plan. One thing to focus on each week, three simple habits plus awareness.

Each step only takes a couple minutes, so easy you can’t say no. The important thing is practice, so don’t allow yourself any excuses each day! Be sure to put this challenge on your calendar each day, and put up notes for yourself so you don’t forget to do it. And don’t put it off.