Course Action Plan: Four Habits

Post written by Leo Babauta.

In this course, 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):

Week 1: We’ll actually be forming two habits this week — picking a Most Important Task each morning, and developing awareness.

Week 2: The Start. Develop the habit of starting.

Week 3: The Pause. Learn to pause when you get the urge to procrastinate.

Week 4: The Mindset. Learn to recognize your fears and irrational beliefs around procrastination, and start to tackle them when they come up.

Develop Week 1 Habits

During Week 1, I ask you to spend 5 minutes each morning picking your Most Important Task for today. If there are several good options, list them and just pick one using your gut feeling. More on this in the Choosing Important Tasks article. Pick a trigger in the morning — having your morning coffee, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc. Do the habit right after this trigger.

There’s also a bonus habit for Week 1: developing awareness. It’s something you should try to do throughout the day, though awareness doesn’t mean you need to take action. Have a reminder posted on your desk or laptop or somewhere you’ll see it for most of the day. Keep a little piece of paper and pen next to you whenever you’re working. Whenever you notice the urge to procrastinate, make a tally mark on the paper. The tally marks will help you develop awareness.

Develop Week 2 Habit

In Week 2, you’re going to develop The Start. It’s simply picking a time to start on your MIT (which you’re still picking each morning), and then starting. More on this in The Art of the Start article.

You just need to do The Start once each day, but if you want to practice it with 2nd and 3rd MITs each day, that’s optional but good.

Also continue to do the habits from Week 1.

Develop Week 3 Habit

In Week 3, you’re going to develop The Pause. You can’t do it unless you worked on the awareness habit from the first week.

We’ll talk more about The Pause next week, but basically you’re just supposed to recognize when you 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.

Once again, you’ll keep a tally of your urges and pauses. When you get an urge and then pause, make a tally mark on a little sheet of paper.

Develop Week 4 Habit

In this final week, continue to do the habits from the first three weeks. They’re pretty much all you need for successful Unprocrastination.

But … we’re going to go beyond if you want. We’re going to take a look, once a day, at why we’re procrastinating. 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. This habit doesn’t need to be logged, but you should share it on the forum or with someone you trust and like to talk to.