Procrastination hack: get to zero

By James Hayton,
January 20, 2014
I'm James, I'm a former physicist (PhD, Nottingham, 2007) and author of "PhD: An Uncommon Guide to Research, Writing & PhD Life".
Since 2010, I've been helping PhD students all over the world overcome barriers in their research and writing
My strategies have helped thousands of PhD students just like you to build confidence, write better and finish on time

If, like me, you have a habit of procrastination, here's a little trick you can use to get yourself going.

When you procrastinate, you probably find yourself engaging in some kind of substitution task. You'll suddenly think of something else that needs doing (like checking email for example) which you'll find a way to rationalise.

If you try to force yourself to work, you may feel a lot of resistance; like trying to force an oil tanker to suddenly change direction. So try this instead...

Get to zero first

The first step is to stop yourself doing the substitution tasks. Close the browser. Get to zero. Try to do nothing.

You will inevitably start thinking of all kinds of other things you should do to fill the vacuum, but calmly resist. Just do nothing. It may take some time, but if you are patient enough your thoughts will gradually settle so you can start to focus on your work.If you create the space first, you can then start to bring your attention to bear on the work.

See also:

Write, or don't write, but don't do anything else

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