Anti-Procrastination: Clear the Deck

Anti-Procrastination: Clear the Deck

Every now and then I take a long look at my to do list and I realize that drastic action is called for if I am gong to significantly cut it down. I schedule a “clear the deck” day.

I never thought this would be a useful method for anyone, because honestly, how many people get that behind on their tasks? Apparently, a lot of us.

Clearing the Deck

This method simply means that I double-down on my task list and hit those things that have been lingering out there.

It may be a bunch of office tasks. It may be household things. It may even be outside – one clearing involved turning over a garden bed, mowing the lawn and weeding.

These are the tasks that we never seem to get to, either because of time constraints or interest level. Yet getting them off the list is amazingly freeing.

When To Schedule A Clearing

I know I need a clear the deck day when I have more than 5 tasks that have been sitting on my lists for more than 2 weeks.

I can also schedule one if I have more than 10 tasks that are sliding from day to day throughout a week.

Either way, this is meant to be an anti-procrastination tool, so it comes about when I see the need.

What I Do to Have a “Clear The Deck” Day

Usually I schedule a half day at work and knock the rest of the tasks out, but sometimes I will do this on a weekend. It doesn’t matter when you schedule, but it does matter that you have an unbroken stretch of time, like three to four hours.

From there it’s just a matter of setting things up properly.

Minimize Distractions

For me, the most important part of clearing the deck is to have no distractions. This means I tell husband and daughter that I’m busy and not to interrupt me. Interruptions from the fur-beasts have to be minimized.

Interruptions of this kind lead me off the path of what I want to do most willingly; for after all, isn’t playing a game with your child more important than doing something that has been on the list for months? Important, yes, but at the same time, it doesn’t lead toward the goal.

Classify The Where

Next I split my tasks by where they need to be done. I use my Productivity Sprint method and list all my tasks. Then I classify them by where they need to be done. I try to group things so that I don’t end up moving randomly around the house, but rather take care of the tasks in one area before moving on to the next.

Stick To The List

Distraction is the enemy of clearing the decks. I have a list, made during the last step, and I know what needs to be done where. By having the tasks written out, I can focus on what needs to be done in the area in which I find myself.

Put on Peppy Music

Peppy music, regardless of the type, will get me working faster. I type faster, think faster, and move faster.

I love the wireless earbuds I received this winter because I can put my phone down and still listen without disturbing anyone else.

Time everything

I work with a timer on me. I do 15 minutes on one task, and when the timer goes off, I switch to another. I keep this up during the clear, taking one 15 minutes every two hours just to do something fun. The key is that when the timer goes off, I have to move on. If I don’t, I derail myself and my energy flow. If I finish my task before the timer goes off (which happens more often than not), I simply move on.

I Give Myself Rewards

At the beginning of the clear, I plan my reward for the work. It can be something I want to buy, or even just watching a favorite movie. Every two hours, I also get to do something fun. This keeps me motivated and working.

I find that clear-the-deck days are not as frequent as they once were. However, I still need to do them in order to keep myself on top of my lists.