6 Favorite Ways to Jump Start A Task

jump start a task

Sometimes it is hard to get going. Like a battery left too long inactive in the cold, we can’t get started on what we need to do.

Everyone has their methods of getting started on a task. Here are my six favorite:

#1: Use A Timer

For some reason, if I tell myself I only have to work on something for 15 minutes and then I can go play, I get started and keep going. In order to do this, I use my trusty timer. Watching the clock doesn’t have the same effect as a timer for me. There are very few times where I truly want to stop after 15 minutes, but if I want to, I can.

#2: Use A Varied-Task Method

As an expansion on the timer, but when I know I need to slog through a bunch of stuff, I use the (10+2)*5 method. I do 10 minutes on task, 2 minutes off, with 5 repetitions. I can get through a lot of stuff knowing I get 2 minute breaks to do anything I want.

I like this better than Pomodoro because 10 minutes always seems much more do-able than 20!

#3: Shut Down Distractions

I am very distractable. If my task at hand involves the computer, I shut down distractions. If I am writing, I will generally use my writing software in full screen mode, and yes, I will turn the background black with green Courier text (ala WordPerfect). If I am researching something, I use Freedom to block unwanted sites (like mail or news or Pinterest). I have even turned of WiFi when necessary. Staring at a blank screen, knowing I couldn’t do anything else if I wanted to, has spurred me to start on many tasks.

#4: Use File Grouping

If I am doing a task that requires a bunch of apps or browser tabs to be open, I will often get sidetracked while I am opening everything up. For the things that I repeat on a regular basis, I have folders set up in my Documents that have links to all the applications and/or websites I need to complete the task. Then when I want to do that task I open the folder, press Ctrl+A to select everything, and hit enter. With just those applications open, I crank through my work quickly. I am amazed at how well this trick works.

#5: Use A Second Desktop

If I am being pulled away from something to work on another task, the temptation to stay and just get a bit more done is strong. Especially if I don’t want to lose my train of thought. Closing down windows means I have to remember what I had open and why, and can keep me from starting the new task. (This happens frequently at work)

When I need things to be isolated, but I don’t want to lose track of where I am on something else, I will spin up a virtual desktop in Windows. I then use the new virtual desktop to complete my task without the pull of the other open windows.

#6: Rewards

When all else fails, promising myself a trip to Starbucks will get me to start just about anything I have been procrastinating on.

We all have favorite methods for starting a task. What are yours?