Procrastination checklist

Pro­cras­ti­na­tion check­list

This list is a re­vi­sion of this check­list: http://​​less­wrong.com/​​lw/​​hgd/​​10step_an­tipro­cras­ti­na­tion_check­list/​​

1. What is the task? Make sure you’re go­ing to fo­cus on one thing at a time. Write it down (helps some peo­ple). (If you need—start with the big pic­ture, one sen­tence of “what is this for”)

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

2. How long will you work un­til you take a break? Pre­pare to set a timer and com­mit to fo­cus­ing.

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

3. What are the parts to this task? Break things down un­til they are in *can do it now* steps, if you have a small num­ber of steps that can now be done; stop writ­ing more steps and start do­ing them.

Can you do it right now? (If yes then do it)

4. What’s an achiev­able goal for this sit­ting? Set a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion for your­self. (un­til it’s done, 1000 words, com­plete re­search on X part)

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

5. How can you make it eas­ier to do the task?

  • Is the en­vi­ron­ment right? Desk clear, well lit area...

  • Do you have some­thing to drink? Get your­self some tea, coffee, or wa­ter.

  • Are dis­trac­tions closed? Shut the door, quit Tweet­deck, close the Face­book and Gmail tabs, and set skype to “Do not dis­turb.”

  • What mu­sic will you listen to in­spire your­self to be pro­duc­tive? Put on a good in­stru­men­tal playlist! (video game sound­tracks are good)

  • Do you have the right books open? The right tools in reach?

  • Is your chair com­fortable?

  • Can you make it harder to do the dis­tract­ing or <not this> thing?

  • (step 3 is go­ing to help to make it eas­ier)

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

6. Why are you do­ing this task? Trace the value back un­til you in­crease the de­sire to do it.

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

7. Will gam­ify­ing help you? What are some ways to gam­ify the task? Try to have fun with it!

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

8. What are some re­wards you can offer your­self for com­plet­ing sec­tions of the task? Smil­ing, throw­ing your arms up in the air and pro­claiming vic­tory, or M&M’s all count, a trip to the beach, a nice milk­shake...

Can you do it now? (If yes then do it)

9. are you sure you want to do it? De­cid­ing ei­ther to; not do it now; or not do it at all; are also fine. It’s up to you to make that de­ci­sion, keep­ing in mind what “not do­ing it” means in it’s en­tirety.


In first-per­son form:

1. What is the task? Make sure I’m go­ing to fo­cus on one thing at a time. Write it down (helps some peo­ple). (If I need—start with the big pic­ture, one sen­tence of “what is this for”)

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

2. How long will I work un­til you take a break? Pre­pare to set a timer and com­mit to fo­cus­ing.

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

3. What are the parts to this task? I want to break things down un­til they are in *can do it now* steps, if I have a small num­ber of steps that can now be done; I will stop writ­ing more steps in the pro­cess and start do­ing them.

Can I do it right now? (If yes then do it)

4. What’s an achiev­able goal for this sit­ting? Set a rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion for my­self. (un­til it’s done, 1000 words, com­plete re­search on X part)

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

5. How can I make it eas­ier to do the task?

  • Is the en­vi­ron­ment right? Desk clear, well lit area...

  • Do I have some­thing to drink? Get your­self some tea, coffee, or wa­ter.

  • Are my dis­trac­tions closed? Shut the door, quit Tweet­deck, close the Face­book and Gmail tabs, set skype to “Do not dis­turb.”

  • What mu­sic will I listen to, to in­spire my­self to be pro­duc­tive? Put on a good in­stru­men­tal playlist!

  • Do I have the right books open? The right tools in reach?

  • Is my chair com­fortable?

  • Can I make it harder to do the dis­tract­ing or <not this> thing?

  • (step 3 is go­ing to help to make it eas­ier)

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

6. Why am I do­ing this task? Trace the value and feel­ing back un­til I in­crease the de­sire to do it.

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

7. Will gam­ify­ing help me? What are some ways to gam­ify the task?

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

8. What are some re­wards I can offer my­self for com­plet­ing sec­tions of the task? Smil­ing, throw­ing my arms up in the air and pro­claiming vic­tory, M&M’s all count, a trip to the beach, a nice milk­shake...

Can I do it now? (If yes then do it)

9. am I sure I want to do it? De­cid­ing ei­ther to—not do it now; or not do it at all; are also fine. It’s up to me to make that de­ci­sion, keep­ing in mind what “not do­ing it” means in terms of the task at hand.


Meta: This took about 2 hours to put to­gether; be­tween writ­ing, rewrit­ing, re­order­ing, edit­ing feed­back and pub­lish­ing.

I couldn’t de­cide whether 2nd per­son or 1st per­son was bet­ter so I wrote both. Please let me know which you pre­fer.

Any ad­just­ments or sug­ges­tions are wel­come.

My table of con­tents is where you will find the other things I have writ­ten.

feed­back on if this works or helps is also wel­come.