Procrastination hack: “(10+2)*5”

October 11, 2005 — Leave a comment

Following on the idea of the procrastination dash and Jeff’s progressive dash, I’ve been experimenting with a squirelly new system to pound through my procrastinated to-do list. Brace yourself, because it is a bit more byzantine than is Merlin 2005’s newly stripped-down habit. It’s called (10+2)*5, and today it will save your behind.

Who it’s for

(10+2)*5

  • procrastinators
  • the easily distracted
  • compulsive web-surfers
  • people with a long list of very short tasks (a/k/a “mosquitos”)
  • people having trouble chipping away at very large tasks

What you’ll need

  1. a timer
    • must be easy to reset
    • electronic kitchen timer is particularly good (pref. with multiple alarm memories), or
    • an app like Minuteur (get the newest version—several cool new features)
  2. a reduced subset of your to-do list
    • tasks that can be worked on (not necessarily completed) in blocks of 10 minutes or less
    • GTD people: next actions only, please
  3. an hour of your time (less is potentially okay, but it’s non-canonical)
  4. your sorry, procrastinating behind

How it works

It’s called “(10+2)*5” and here’s why:

  • 10 – Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done…
  • 2 – After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want—drink coffee, read 5ives, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
  • *5 – You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking

Important squirrely rules

  • You do not need to finish your task or your project in ten minutes; you just need to move it forward
  • If you finish a satisfying amount of work in fewer than ten minutes, STOP, and go right to your 2-minute break, than start another 10-minute dash
  • Do NOT skip breaks! You are not allowed. Breaks cannot be missed. Period. Go surf the web. Now. Seriously. GO!

What will happen

You’ll blaze through an hour’s worth of work/not work and will find yourself looking forward to both the breaking and working parts of the cycle. (Dang, how’s that for a change?)

Read the entire article HERE.

Pat Callahan

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I'm a picker. I'm a grinner. I'm a lover. And I'm a sinner. I make my music in the sun.

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