Beating Procrastion at the Starting Line

There are a million excuses for procrastinating, but they all boil down to a common theme: you avoid getting started. Starting a task or project is often the hardest part and it generally comes down to one of two reasons:

  • It’s too big
  • It’s not fun

Sound familiar?

Breaking through the Starting Line

Try using a “dash” to give yourself that needed kick in the ass. A dash is a short burst of focused activity during which you do nothing but tackle one item on your to-do list for a very short chunk of time.

Why will it work?

It’s often easier to motivate yourself to work in these short chunks when there is a clear goal and a definite end in sight. In some cases you might even find it easy to continue working once you have some momentum.

I can already hear you groaning about spending a whole 25 minutes on some boring drudge work. Guess what? Succeeding at a task does not require that you actually like doing it. It’s OK to acknowledge that you don’t like it, but force your self to work anyway–even if only for a 10 minute “sprint”. If you still hate the task at the end of the timer, you can reward yourself with a break or switch to something less painful. If after 10 minutes you are in the zone, keep on working!

Are dashes not working for you? Got a better idea?

Being a lean startup, Redux

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, describes a startup as: a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty. Our company, while not the stereotypical garage startup, fits all three aspects of this definition.  Every project our team undertakes is essentially a startup effort designed to (hopefully)…

What I’ve learned about crowdSpring

For those of you that don’t know, crowdSpring is a crowdsourcing site for logo, business card, illustration, and web site design.  Basically crowdSpring manages design contests.  If you need a logo, you just describe what you are looking for and put up the prize money.  The creatives then compete for that prize – submitting their designs…

Being a lean startup

I read Steve Blank’s “The Four Step to the Epiphany” a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.   In a nutshell Gary argues that startup founders need to begin a ”customer development” process from the get go.  The key insight is that questions regarding the needs of the user can almost never be answered in your own conference room,…

Making evidence-based presentation guidance practical

There are many strong opinions about the use of PowerPoint and other slideware, but surprisingly little research.  In fact, in a survey of the texts employed in public speaking courses taught within the California State University system, Jennifer Kammeyer found that only 33% of textbooks contained any sourced recommendations and of those sources listed, only…

Is it bad to increase cognitive load?

Scott Berkun just posted a teaser video for his new book Confessions of a Public Speaker on his blog.  My initial impression was that it was an exciting and quirky ad that effectively conveyed his onstage personality. I was surprised to find that this 94 second video sparked an interesting discussion centered on how the…

The rhetorical strategies of visual designers

At the 2009 International Professional Communication Conference I had the pleasure of meeting with Suguru Ishizaki.  Suguru gave an amazing presentation of his efforts to develop a framework for understanding (and ultimately teaching) effective visual-verbal communications.  The big take-away for me was that a skilled designer can use fairly subtle patterns of visuals and typography to create…