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There's been a number of writings on overcoming procrastination, with a tidy summary at Recap: Turning procrastination into action. However, one technique that I hadn't heard of was presented last week during an on-campus seminar ("Developing organization skills to be more effective in the workplace"). It's called the "STING" method of addressing procrastination, and it's an acronym that stands for:
S - Select one task.
T - Time yourself.
I - Ignore everything else.
N - No breaks.
G - Give yourself a reward.
In my case I applied it to a programming task that I've been avoiding for almost two months. I set the timer for one hour (3 x 20 minute increments worked well), quit my email program and browser, and closed my office door. The beauty of it is ... it worked! Friday and today I was able to put in enough hours to get that piece working (using Test-driven development, of course). Actually, it was better than that - I was able to get enough momentum to keep going a while; very satisfying. Oh, the reward? Chocolate! (Lately I've been enjoying Lake Champlain's Small World Chocolates - nothing like their usual chocolate, by the way.)
Surprisingly, the only reference to this I could find on-line was It's All about Mothers and Babies, where they provide a bit more detail:
- Select one task you've been putting off. Break it down to just one small piece if it's complicated. For instance, if the task is cleaning the kitchen, reorganizing a drawer is just one piece of the larger task.
- Time yourself. Use a kitchen timer so you don't have to watch the clock and give the task one full hour. Children might need to reduce that time to just 10 or 15 minutes.
- Ignore everything else that needs to be done.
- No breaks allowed.
- Give yourself a reward when the task is completed.