"Blind" Index Cards to alleviate procrastination

baseball98

Registered
Hi! New here on the forum and a recently new GTD:er :)

I am suffering from procrastination and tend to procrastinate the actions and projects that I find the most stressful or require the most energy from me, at the same time as most of these are the ones that would make the biggest change if I could complete them.

I have recently tried a method with "blind" index cards, that I write down actions on and a promise to myself that no matter what, I must perform the task on the card. The reason behind this is that I should not actively choose not to do these, and make progress on the projects that are taking up my bad conscience.

Is this a known method, has anyone tried it or do you have tips to keep this going when I start to slip? Would be great to get other tips on how to make progres in the projects that aren't fun or easy. I realize that very clear next actions are needed regardless but I feel I have that under control. Thanks.
 

Gardener

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I think the book "Eat That Frog" is pretty much about this topic. I haven't read it, but someone whose opinion I pretty much respect has, and recommends it.
 

Sarahsuccess

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Hi! New here on the forum and a recently new GTD:er :)

I am suffering from procrastination and tend to procrastinate the actions and projects that I find the most stressful or require the most energy from me, at the same time as most of these are the ones that would make the biggest change if I could complete them.

I have recently tried a method with "blind" index cards, that I write down actions on and a promise to myself that no matter what, I must perform the task on the card. The reason behind this is that I should not actively choose not to do these, and make progress on the projects that are taking up my bad conscience.

Is this a known method, has anyone tried it or do you have tips to keep this going when I start to slip? Would be great to get other tips on how to make progres in the projects that aren't fun or easy. I realize that very clear next actions are needed regardless but I feel I have that under control. Thanks.

What comes to my mind is to give time for the process of the 5 stages of gtd to work: Capture, clarify, organize, review & do. Review is the part thats often neglected. There are lots of threads and posts on the forum on the Review stage of gtd.

This morning while waiting at the dentist’s office for 45 minutes, I reviewed my lists. This evening I sent an email that I have been procrastinating for months (because it is ‘stressful and requires energy’)

Clarifying what I’ve captured into do-able next actions is also something that took time for me.

Edited to add: When I was reviewing my lists at the dentist’s office, I changed a next action from “email Mrs. G.”, which was in my @home context (because the email address was in a publication I had at home), to “put Mrs. G’s email address into my iPhone” so that I could then change the context to “Anywhere”. That was a smaller, more do-able step. That got me to look at the email address, and once I was doing that, I sent the email.
 
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baseball98

Registered
I think the book "Eat That Frog" is pretty much about this topic. I haven't read it, but someone whose opinion I pretty much respect has, and recommends it.
Thanks, I have read it and yes, and it has some valid points on procrastination but like many self help books, could probably be narrowed down to 5 pages :)
 

cfoley

Registered
Choosing randomly might be better than scrolling social media and it might work as a short-term hack to get some sort of motion. In the past, I have used all sorts of tricks to remove the choice in the moment. Ultimately, they were disempowering and non-strategic. They made me feel like a robot and caused me to disengage with my lists and respond to the latest and loudest.

Instead, you could tackle why you have resistance to these projects. For each troublesome project, have you nailed down why you are doing it and what a successful outcome looks like? Is the next action really a next action? Can it be made smaller and more easily doable? Is it possible that you shouldn't be doing the project at all? Maybe it is an obsolete commitment that should be renegotiated.

Do you engage with the higher levels, from 'areas of focus' to life 'purpose and principles'? Do these projects resonate with those levels?

How good is the quality of your review? Do you keep too much in your active project list? If you move something to Someday/Maybe, will you trust yourself to review it in a timely manner so that you can bring it back? What if you just kept one of these nasty projects in your active project list and moved the rest to Someday/Maybe? If you ticked off just one of those projects this week, that might be a huge win.
 

Sojourner

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That was a smaller, more do-able step.
@Sarahsuccess uses the method I use most for stress inducing actions or projects. Break tasks down to even smaller easier to handle actions so I'm making progress towards completion, but not overwhelming myself.

An example for me, following along with @Sarahsuccess 's Mrs. G email scenario, would be to create a task like, "Create an outline of the email to Mrs. G and save as draft". Instead of stressing myself over completing the entire email all at once, I would break the task of completing the email down into even smaller less stressful steps. This gives me a small sense of accomplishment (dopamine boost :)), which then motivates me to continue moving forward.
 

baseball98

Registered
Choosing randomly might be better than scrolling social media and it might work as a short-term hack to get some sort of motion. In the past, I have used all sorts of tricks to remove the choice in the moment. Ultimately, they were disempowering and non-strategic. They made me feel like a robot and caused me to disengage with my lists and respond to the latest and loudest.

Instead, you could tackle why you have resistance to these projects. For each troublesome project, have you nailed down why you are doing it and what a successful outcome looks like? Is the next action really a next action? Can it be made smaller and more easily doable? Is it possible that you shouldn't be doing the project at all? Maybe it is an obsolete commitment that should be renegotiated.

Do you engage with the higher levels, from 'areas of focus' to life 'purpose and principles'? Do these projects resonate with those levels?

How good is the quality of your review? Do you keep too much in your active project list? If you move something to Someday/Maybe, will you trust yourself to review it in a timely manner so that you can bring it back? What if you just kept one of these nasty projects in your active project list and moved the rest to Someday/Maybe? If you ticked off just one of those projects this week, that might be a huge win.
Thanks - Looking at my projects, perhaps you are onto something and I need to review my next actions and perhaps break them down to smaller steps. Also - examining the projects I "fear" - they exclusively are projects where I am afraid of failure, not in execution but in result. They are also personal projects that are things I need to do/build/fix around the house. Perhaps I should abandon the projects and outsource them to contractors.

Edit: With abandon, what I really mean is restructure the projects with new tasks - i.e "Call carpenter re:separator garage" etc.
 
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cfoley

Registered
That all sounds sensible to me. I hope it works well for you.

Also - examining the projects I "fear" - they exclusively are projects where I am afraid of failure, not in execution but in result.

I try to phrase project titles and wild success avoiding things I can't control. For example, instead of "Win a gold medal", I might have "Plan my training so I can perform at my best".
 
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