Slice Up Your Tasks To Beat Procrastination

Education consultant ADRIAN CHOO shares a useful tool to help you kill procrastination instead of time.
Beat Procrastination

We sometimes wonder why we procrastinate. Whether at work or at home, many of us are comfortable to delay facing an unattractive task, up until we are forced to do something. Ultimately, the dreaded report or email still has to be written, or the conflict to be resolved. And yet, we often repeat the heel-dragging, and the miserable feeling it entails.

Procrastination comes from a desire to defend or buy time, and escape or perhaps even deny the need to face something that we are not ready for.

The trouble with evading is that it can become an endless marathon that catches up with you and bites you from behind. The more you run away, the more you are focused on running away. This mindset circles around the matter you are trying to avoid until it imprisons and suffocates you. This prison, a monster we create ourselves, can only be slayed by its creator: you. Alternatively, one way to tackle the monster is to “tame” it with a “Happy Pizza” tool.

The Happy Pizza philosophy

Most procrastinators face the problem of getting started on an assignment. The Happy Pizza is a planning tool that helps you trick your brain into starting, by beginning with the quickest, most basic steps. Once the work has started, it is easier to convince the brain to progress to the next sub-task.

Beat Procrastination

    Follow these steps to use the Happy Pizza. The Happy Pizza is good for assignments that can be completed in four hours or less. You do not need to use up all eight slices of the Happy Pizza tool. Once you start, you have already won half the battle against the procrastination monster!

  1. In the top half of the centre circle, write down your ultimate assignment above the dotted lines. A goal that is visually articulated pushes your mind to complete the assignment.
  2. Decide your prize or reward for completing the task. The prize should be attractive enough for your brain to want it. Highlight it in a bright colour in the bottom half of the centre circle, below the dotted line. Allow yourself, for example, a 15-minute break at the pantry once you have finished your task. A reward that is visually articulated gives our mind a push factor for completing the assignment.
  3. Break down the steps: use one Pizza slice for each task to complete the assignment. Start off with your first two tasks, which should be quick (taking less than 20 seconds to complete) and easy (idiot-proof). These can be as simple as clearing your desk and taking out your reference materials – tasks that trick your brain to get started and get them done.
  4. Plan the next (real) task into the third slice. Your brain has started and most likely decides to continue the ”actual“ work.
  5. In other slices, jot down two breaks in between tasks. By planning your breaks, you do not have to feel guilty about them since they are in your plans.
  6. Plan the rest of the tasks into the remaining slices. It’s time to finish and win your battle!
  7. Finally, claim the prize! Close the loop of your psychological battle against procrastination!

Use a highlighter (try a cheery green or yellow) to colour in the slice of Happy Pizza for each task that you complete – shading the border of a slice is good enough. This colouring action attracts your brain’s attention and motivates you to keep going, especially if you are a visual or kinaesthetic learner.

AbleLab was started by educators who believe in training “developmental balance” and “self-learning”. Their A.B.L.E philosophy for children was later developed for the corporate world, with team-building activities, workshops and training courses in the form of gamification. Parents can assess their child’s learning concerns with a five-minute survey at (promo code: greatkid)

    Sep 2, 2015
    Adrian Choo
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