Setting Up an Unprocrastination Environment
Post written by Leo Babauta.
One of the keys to unprocrastination is not relying on your willpower — it’s too likely to fail when you’re tired, stressed, busy, worried, sad.
A better approach is setting up an environment that doesn’t lend itself to procrastination.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Leo is addicted to Facebook, and will check it every few minutes instead of working. He also likes to watch Youtube videos and check his email to put off the harder tasks. So he sets up an Internet blocker for those sites except for 10 minutes every hour. He will also go for a couple hours to a nearby spot that doesn’t have wireless Internet, and be able to focus on his Most Important Task during that time.
Now, Leo could get around these things — turn off the Internet blocker, or leave the place without wireless — but by setting up these barriers, he’s making it less likely that he’ll give in, because it becomes harder to go to these distractions. One of the things about distractions is that they are easier than the thing we’re avoiding — but if we make them difficult to do, then the thing we’re avoiding become easier.
So the whole idea is to set up your environment so that it’s easier to focus than to do the distractions.
Ways to Set Up Your Unprocrastination Environment
This list isn’t complete, nor is it a step-by-step guide. It’s a list of ideas you can use to craft your personal unprocrastination environment.
- Go somewhere without wireless during your most productive time. This might be 1-2 hours a day, let’s say from 10-12 a.m.
- Block Facebook or Twitter. Or whatever social network you’re addicted to. Bonus points for deleting your account (I did that with Facebook last year). Note: more on blocking sites in the screencast on Computer Tools.
- Use a distraction-free writing tool like WriteRoom, OmmWriter, Q10.
- Block email except 10 minutes every hour, or 30 minutes every 3 hours.
- Have a period where your computer is shut off.
- Shut off your phone or mobile device except for certain hours every day.
- Commit to getting a task or project to someone by a certain time.
- Use headphones and music to block out surrounding distractions.
- Clear your desk.
- Close all programs except the one you need for your task. Especially close the browser.
- Turn off notifications on your computer and mobile device.
- Give your router to a friend for a few hours, and tell them not to give it back for awhile. Or have them change the password and not tell you what it is until you’re done with your task.
- Give yourself distraction breaks as a reward for focusing for 10, 20, 30, or 50 minutes.
- Have an online tracker (using something such as Google Spreadsheets) that is shared with friends, where they can see your unprocrastination log. Log the number of times you had successful 15- or 30-minute focus sessions, and the number of times you allowed yourself to procrastinate during a focus session.
- Have an unprocrastination accountability partner.
- Commit on Facebook (or whatever) to paying people $50 if you don’t get a task done by a certain time.
Anyway, you get the idea. Each step is designed to make distractions more difficult, and focusing easier. Get started today!