Beat Procrastination With “The Urge List”

Riddle me this: How many anti-procrastination techniques have you tried in your life? Okay, you don’t have to answer that. I know there are probably quite a few. The various things you could try include creating a to-do list, timeboxing, recruiting others to help you in your efforts, etc.

What if you tried one technique that finally made you conscious of both the fact that you were procrastinating and why? Well, then you’d love me of course!

Materials required:

  • Writing utensil*
  • Paper
  • All necessary materials to complete your project (the reason for your procrastination)

*You may also use any other object that allows you to record your ideas as they come to you.

The Set-up

After gathering your materials, begin the work that you’ve been dreading. But don’t fear because you’ll only need to work for one minute. Easy enough, right?

If after the first minute you’re still feeling good about completing your task then continue it. Maybe you don’t need me after all. However, if you’re distracted by a random urge to do something else, record that urge. We’ll call this the “Urge List.” An example of mine while writing this article can be found below.

This is my Urge List. As you can see, I get quite a bit of mind noise while focusing on something for long periods of time.

What Does the List Accomplish?

It serves two purposes.

  1. It makes you aware of why you’re procrastinating.
  2. It can take things off your mind while you focus on the more important task at hand.

The list strengthens my ability to actively choose a path of action. For example, take a look at Number 9 on my list. It reads “Stare at a leaf.” After I had that wildly beckoning thought I immediately disregarded it and then went back to writing this article. By keeping myself loyal to my list, I was able to think about why I wasn’t consistently focusing and I was also able to eliminate silly urges (although it seemed completely reasonable at the time).

What Happens When You Must Give in to An Urge?

Only choose to carry out the urges that are truly important and that won’t allow you to get carried away. Be conservative. If you need to drink some water, go ahead and do it. Besides, water is good for you. Just don’t go over the top and take a shower, water the plants, and drive out to your nearest water park all in effort to avoid your task. Over time you’ll nurture your inner voice and be able to consciously and accurately ignore/accept urges so that you don’t deviate unexpectedly.

Analyze the List.

As you record, you’ll notice recurring urges. You can combat the seeming urgency of these desires by telling yourself that it can be your reward for after you finish your current project. It can also help you see the folly of your mind in its current state. Perhaps this “reward” really isn’t that great at all (think back to the leaf example). Then you can easily forget about it as a distraction. Your mind can let it go.

Otherwise, the urge that you’ve been trying to fight really is worth all the work you’ve been doing. In that case, you’ve successfully pinpointed something you want to work towards as the carrot at the end of the stick. Most people make the mistake of choosing a reward before they finish their work. This reward may not be aligned with their true desires, and they don’t work as hard to finish their task because the supposed “reward” doesn’t motivate them.

Additional Steps to Boosting Productivity

There are certain precautions you can take that are recommended by others that will increase the effectiveness of this method. When combined with advice such as turning off your internet connection, and keeping out distracting sounds, the Urge List can keep you focused and alert during your working hours.

If you’ve used the Urge List method and it has or hasn’t worked for you, then let me know in the comments below.

Channel Your Innermost Creativity

How do you turn an independent project into something impressively unique? If it is to come off as genuinely creative and inspiring, it has got to move beyond a resurrection of material from the echo chamber; it must come freely from one’s thoughts.

But how does one tap into the infinite resource of our creative mind?

Before You Begin:

Forget Limits and Suggestions

First off, we can’t allow someone else to tell us how to complete said creative act. For them to tell us would be for us to have our creativity wiped. There is no meaning behind creativity that was forced into existence. Understand that you can follow rules to complete your project, but you will score extra brownie points if you somehow break the idea of “standard.” Following your intuition as guidance will be your best bet to ultimate creativity because the decisions and consequently the outcome will come directly from you. At the core of your being lies endless imagination.

Hold Your Own Standards

Letting another person dictate what level you should be working at will cause you to sell yourself short. You’ll likely compromise your best work for a lower level of output. It’s also a good tip not to analyze your competition. Often, in the process of comparing their past work to your future work it’s easy to forget what your original ideas were. Hold back your mind from exploring the works of others and you’ll see a better result – one that isn’t tainted with outright plagiarism.

The Process:

Let Your Idea Develop

Give it room to grow. Your idea is a subset of you – a special part of your life that you are giving form to. If you treat it as a division of yourself then you are more likely to incorporate more meaning and functionality into it. Don’t hold back either. We need the world to see you – to gain a refreshing new perspective because you have imparted your influence.

Envision the End Product

Imagine your idea fully presented in all its glory. When you do this, your brain subconsciously wants to partner with you to make the idea a reality. This easily sets you up for success. Now that you know where you want to go, you can form a path to get there.

Blazing the Path

Next you will need to create the path that will lead you from a simple creative thought to a fully developed implementation of the idea. Begin by writing down all the elements, steps, resources you think you’ll need. It’s better to have things on paper because then your mind doesn’t need to focus on everything at once. You can empty your brain and then take a look at the whole.

During this process, engage every resource that you have at your fingertips. If that doesn’t work, ask the people at your fingertips who they have at their fingertips. See how far you can cast your net. Be unafraid to ask for help from others. As long as you’ve been pleasant company and are willing to aid others in their quests, they should have no problem doing the same. Just don’t be one of those people who only want friendship when they need help.

Once you understand your steps and have secured your mentors/resources/tools, you’re able to go to work on your idea.

Seeing it Through

Sure, you may have a million and one creative ideas at your disposal, but seeing them through will fuel your motivation to implement other ideas. If you know you can finish and successfully test out one, you’ll have more confidence to try your hand at another.

Notice Patterns of Creativity

Although most of the creation should take place internally first, there is an exception – inspiration. Recognize and analyze the innovators in your industry or area of expertise. What are they doing on a regular basis that allows them to have the confidence to pull off creative endeavors? How can you learn from them?

One Time Offer

This is a one-time offer. Take it or leave it. You have entered the personal blog of Selina Pittari and there is no escape if you read on. Scary, right? The goal of this blog is for me to experiment and find a way to create traction. Can this be a viable source of income? Is it a worthy investment of time? Can I further my writing abilities and keep the promises I’ve made to myself about personal development and engaging my mind? Only time (and perseverance) will tell.

There may be no direct or apparent reason that I’m starting this blog other than to help myself, but let me tell you that I’ve been personally affected by so many blogs. They’ve literally changed the way I live my life, think on a day to day basis, and I’m always hungry for new (and wonderful) writers. Because, you see, the thing about blogs is that you can take a journey into someone’s head for as long as they are willing to let you. As Bill O’Hanlon says in his book Write is a Verb, something you write might just be the exact thing someone else needs to read at that moment. So true. If I can share my ideas publicly and just one other person can benefit from what I’ve had to say, then I’ll have effected change.

A Note About Changes

Hello everyone! This might get a little confusing for about a week or so, but I’ve just moved to on a separate server from Blogger, and am customizing my blog. If you’re a loyal reader, feel free to visit my old archived posts at my Blogger site. It still has all of my old posts. Unfortunately, I won’t be transferring those posts over to this new site.

But Don’t Worry

Check back for updates coming soon (or just to see how badly I can mess up my site!).