17 Anti-Procrastination Hacks by Dominic Mann is a list written to help you stop being lazy, overcome procrastination and finally get stuff done. Procrastination is something everyone can relate to. Mann's list has different approaches, theories and techniques you can apply to your daily life to get more done and avoid the procrastination trap!
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Who is this summary for?
17 Anti-Procrastination Hacks by Dominic Mann is a list written to help everyone stop being lazy, overcome procrastination and finally get stuff done. Procrastination is something everyone can relate to, it’s easy to find yourself distracted or focusing on non-important tasks. Mann's list has different approaches, theories and, techniques that you can apply to your daily life to get more done and avoid the procrastination trap!
About the author
Dominic Mann is an Australian author, he’s published numerous books, his key focus has always been helping readers to become the best versions of themselves, by providing some tools to help them reach their full potential and reach the successes they’ve always wanted. On the side, Mann actually writes about the dating world, aiming to help men understand woman better and the laws of attraction.
In this summary
Mann’s book covers 17 key tips, this summary will briefly outline each of his key tips ranging from why people procrastinate, to setting actionable goals and even how to outsource work.
INTELLIGENT PEOPLE PROCRASTINATE MORE
Mann’s first ‘tip’ is actually more of an explanation of why the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to find yourself procrastinating. If you’re someone with a high-intelligence, you’re able to see the repercussions of any task, you realise that it might be boring or difficult, therefore, you put it off for something that might be more stimulating.
Mann explains, that those of us that are slightly less-intelligent are more inclined to simply work on what is directly in front of them, or whatever is next on the to-do list.
So it’s the over-thinking of any task that leads us to procrastinate, if only we could all just begin work on a task without conceptualising what it will entail. However, Mann has a solution for us, and he calls it the ‘Next Action Habit…’
THE NEXT ACTION HABIT
The next action habit is an approach Mann has come up with to prevent procrastination and that overwhelming feeling you get when you are considering taking on a new task.
”To stop procrastinating, shift your focus from the overwhelming immensity of the entire forest to just a single tree. “Click To Tweet
What this means, is that you need to break down any large project into small individual tasks. You may need to complete an annual marketing analysis, which is a lengthy task that you know will take hours. But, if you shift your attention to only the first step, which could be downloading the data from Google Analytics, then you are more likely to get on with the task at hand knowing it can be completed relatively quickly.
”Focus only on the next physical action needed to move forward and do it.”
MOMENTUM IS KEY
Mann’s third tip is all about the physics of productivity and building momentum.
”Productive people tend to stay productive. Or, as they say, nothing succeeds like success.”
Mann explains that productive people build a certain momentum, they start with one task, then move straight onto the net and so on. Kind of like visualising a domino chain, one knocking onto the next one. Completing one task, and feeling that moment of pride will easily lead to completing another and another. Once you start, you’ll find it easy to continue.
MAKE A TASTY TO-DO LIST
This tip from Mann is really a follow on from the next action habit. Fill your to-do list with tasty, little, achievable tasks that are quick to action, this means you’re more likely to tackle them one after another and gain momentum. Make sure the tasks on your list are all next actions, e.g. don’t put ‘new tires’ on the list, instead put ‘call tire store for prices’ and later in the day another task to ‘book in the car for new tires.’
”Reduce your focus to no more than, “what is the very next physical action I can take? What is the next action?”—and then do it.”
Mann’s two-minute rule is a really useful one, and it’s something that comes up in a lot of productivity books, it’s obviously a popular approach. If you find yourself faced with a task that’s likely to take only a few moments, anything less than two minutes, then you need to do it immediately. Don’t put it off. If you receive an email that requires a one-sentence reply, then send it right away.
MACRO GOALS & MICRO QUOTAS
Mann calls upon author Anthony Trollope and his experience to explain his next anti-procrastination hack.
As an author, Trollope would find in increasingly disheartening to be working on a large task for such a long period of time. Writing a book is a task that can stem from months to years, even chapters will take days. It’s hard to stay motivated when it feels like almost no progress is being made. There’s no satisfaction if you don’t get to cross tasks off your to-do list regularly is there!
So, Trollope came up with a new way to measure his progress and he used 15-minute increments. After working on any task for 15-minutes, he’d reward himself with the sense of a ‘win’ or the sense of accomplishment. He needed to break up his tasks in such a way so he could feel more effective and feel like he was constantly making progress rather than stuck in the midst of a stationary task.
”Find a way to balance the satisfaction of getting things done and pursuing your biggest and most ambitious goals by setting ‘macro goals’ and ‘micro quotas’.”
Time blocks are Mann’s next hack, and actually, something that I am pretty passionate about. If you want to read more about how I use time blocking, check out my post here.
Mann explains that by specifying exactly when, where and how you will complete a task, you are making a commitment to yourself that is hard to break. Instead of thinking that you’ll get the task done at some point this week, you need to physically block out a period of time. This is essential is preventing procrastination.
- Firstly, decide when you need to complete the task, consider when it’s due and how much time you’ll need to complete this.
- Block out the appropriate amount of time to work on the task, do this on a calendar, physical or online. Be generous with your time slot, sometimes tasks take longer than expected.
- Finally, when you reach the time to work on the task, eliminate all distractions so you can focus purely on the task at hand. Close any internet browsers, shut down your emails and put your phone onto silent. ]
”Set aside a block of time, cut out all distractions. And give yourself no choice but to do whatever it is you need to do.”
MANN’S BUTT-IN-CHAIR METHOD
Mann considers this method to be 100% effective and really simple to do. All you need to do is commit to sitting down at your desk (butt-in-chair) for a certain amount of time each day. Ensure that you have no distractions, put your phone on silent, turn off email notifications and just work.
”The power of committing a block of undistracted time to working on a specific task cannot be overstated. Committing to an undistracted time block is perhaps the single most effective anti-procrastination technique there is.”
Mann notes just how common it is for people to feel that they are extremely productive when on flights, particularly business flights. People question why this is, but to Mann, it’s clear. Absolutely no distractions. No wi-fi, no texts, no calls, no pesky meetings, no shared office morning teas. Just you and your work.
Mann explains that there’s no need to wait until your next flight to feel that productive. You can create the environment you need anytime you like. Have a day away from the office (and all those pesky interruptions), put on an out-of-office automatic reply and turn all of your devices onto airplane mode. Today, you are not able to be contacted, allowing you to focus purely on the work at hand.
Note, you don’t have to do this for an entire day, you can use this technique for a few hours here or there, or even just the afternoon. The beauty of not having an actual flight to catch is you can do it whenever you like.
DISTRACTION TO-DO LISTs
How often do you find yourself in the middle of work when your suddenly overcome with the desire to do something else, something non-work related, something has distracted you and grabbed your attention. Mann suggests rather than giving into that desire right then and there, write it down. Create a distraction to-do list that contains all the things you want to do. This way, you don’t have to worry that you might forget about it later. And once your work is done, you can set about completing your distraction to-do list freely and without it getting in the way of work.
MANN’S (10+2)X5 METHOD
Mann’s next method is a useful one for breaking up your day. It involved setting out a 60-minute period and focusing on work.
First, set a timer on your computer or watch or phone for 10 minutes. For 10 minutes you can work on the given task, with no distractions.
When the 10 minutes is up, take 2 minutes (only 2) to either check your personal emails, browse facebook, grab a glass of water or do a few stretches.
And after the 2 minutes is up, you guessed it, knuckle down and focus on work for another 10 minutes. Complete this cycle 5 x and you’ll have a 60-minute block of pretty solid work under your belt. As humans, we struggle to focus on any one task non-stop for 60 minutes, so these intermittent brain breaks give you a chance to refresh and refocus.
DEADLINES CAN BE POWERFUL
Who remembers being in high school or university and managing to complete an entire assignment in one night, even though you were allocated three weeks to complete it. You question, how is that possible? But Mann explains that the real secret here is deadlines. It’s hand in the assignment, or fail. And no student wants to fail, so they do the seemingly impossible, and complete three weeks of work in a single night.
Mann acknowledges that once we have left the education system, we often don’t face such strict deadlines anymore. The pressure isn’t there so often the work doesn’t get done. Mann suggests creating a system for yourself that enforces deadlines.
For example, Stickk (www.stickk.com) is a series that allows you to put money on the line, you’ll pay up if you don’t complete your work on time.
Of course, you don’t have to use a paid service, you can create a system yourself ensuring that you’ll face consequences if you miss a deadline.
STOP BEING A PERFECTIONIST
Analysis paralysis is a scientific term to describe being a perfectionist. Mann explains that this is one of the top causes of procrastination. It’s easy to want everything to be perfect, all of the time, but in reality, nothing is perfect. You can learn new skills, develop, grow and thrive, but you’ll still never be perfect. And it’s time to accept that.
Mann explains that in terms of productivity, doing nothing is the worst case scenario. It’s always better to be doing something, anything. You just have to start. Instead of focusing all of your attention on doing things perfectly, start focusing on just doing. Once you can shift your mindset, you’ll find that you are getting a lot more done!
CAN YOU PROCRASTINATE PRODUCTIVELY?
You simply cannot be productive one hundred percent of the time, it’s impossible. Procrastinating is an inevitability, despite our best efforts. We can’t completely eliminate it, but we can do our best to reduce the amount we procrastinate. Another thing that Mann suggests you do, is to procrastinate productively. It sounds odd, but it works.
Say you’ve been working on a big proposal for hours, and you feel your mind drifting, you can no longer focus on the deep work and you feel like you’re about to procrastinate. Instead of giving up on work altogether, shift your focus to easy, simple tasks that still need to be done but won’t take up much brain power. Whether it be returning a phone call, reading some emails or even just tidying your desk. The shift in focus will be welcomed and you’ll still be getting something done.
Visualising is something we all do, we daydream about what success would look like for us, or in some cases, we visualise failure too! However, Mann explains that a lot of the visualising that we do can result in more procrastination rather than more productivity.
Essentially, you can trick your mind into believing these goals have been achieved through visualisation, making you less motivated to work hard to achieve said goals.
So how do you combat this? First up, Mann recommends that you stop visualising success, don’t visualise the end goal. Instead, shift your focus to visualising the steps necessary to reach the outcome.
Take Mann’s example of Olympian athletes as inspiration:
”When Olympians use visualisation as a tool, they don’t visualise standing on the highest spot on the podium triumphantly holding aloft their gold medal. What they do instead is visualise the race, the process of winning gold, not the outcome.
CAN’T VS. DON’T
The next tip from Mann is that we need to really work on our self-image, the way we view ourselves. How often do you find yourself saying that you can’t do something, that you can’t get it done in time or that you can’t complete a task because it is just too hard? This kind of mindset is damaging and only encourages procrastination.
The word can’t is damaging, however, the word don’t, according to Mann, is empowering. Consider the sentence; “I can’t drink alcohol” versus the statement “I don’t drink alcohol.” The word don’t implies that you make a conscious decision not to do something. Can’t connotes the idea that you are unable when often, that’s not the case.
”Telling yourself (or others) that you “can’t” do something impresses upon the mind that you would very much like to do the thing in question but you’re denying yourself of it.”
Mann acknowledges, that outsourcing seems like an odd solution to procrastination. And the truth is, it’s not a solution at all, it’s really about offloading your workload to someone else so that you can continue to do other things (procrastinate.) So although not a great solution, at least the work is still getting done right?
You’d also think that it would be expensive, but really it can be cheap and quick. Mann recommends checking our resources such as Upward (www.upwork.com) and Fiverr (www.fiverr.com) where you can get people from all over the world to do the tasks you hate the most for a very small cost.
It’s worth considering for the menial tasks that are repetitive and simple but need to be completed regularly. You may be sick and tired of these tasks and never feel like doing them, so delegating these to someone else can be an effective way of getting the job done.
DOWNLOAD THE 17 ANTI-PROCRASTINATION HACKS PDF FOR FREE!
- Remember the Next Action Habit, don’t consider a project as an entirety, just focus on the next small task involved in making some progress.
- Momentum is important, once you get started working, it’s easier to continue. So just start!
- Have a useful to-do list, where you only write down the very next actions. This way you can move through it quickly.
- Implement the 2-minute rule, if it takes less than 2 minutes to do, do it right away.
- Use time-blocking to schedule time and block out time to sit at your desk and work.
- Consider using airplane mode on your devices and switching them off to allow for some focused, deep work time.
- The (10+2)x5 method is a great way to split up your day. Work hard for 10 minutes, take a 2-minute brain break, then back to work.
- Use deadlines as a motivator, whether someone else sets them for you or you set them yourself, create a consequence for things that aren’t done.
- Consider outsourcing menial tasks that are repetitive and boring to you.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg focuses on work-related habits but also personal habits, therefore it is ideal for anyone who’s interested in making a change in their life whether it be professional or personal. Duhigg examines exactly what a habit is before delving into how we can mould, shape and change these habits.
If you’re interested in learning more about habit making, check out 50 Positive Habits to Transform Your Life by Michael Chapman is a quick and easy to read checklist of things you can add to your day to improve your life by implementing positive thinking and actions. From fitness goals, mental habits, emotions, lifestyle, personal habits and developments, Chapman covers all areas of life. If you need convincing on introducing these habits, Chapman's book has great personal examples of why adding these simple habits has made his life better and what life would be like without them!
Similarly, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey explores a number of paradigms, principles and habits that can help you become more productive, whether that be as an individual, as part of an organisation or a business.
Guidelines is my eBook that summarises the main lessons from 33 of the best-selling self-help books in one place. It is the ultimate book summary; Available as a 80-page ebook and 115-minute audio book. Guidelines lists 31 rules (or guidelines) that you should follow to improve your productivity, become a better leader, do better in business, improve your health, succeed in life and become a happier person.
- Try and tackle one of Mann’s tips at a time, you’re never going to take them all on at once. Start with something easy, implement it and see how you go.
- A great rule to start with is the 2 minute rule!
- Download the complete book on Amazon.
This summary is not intended as a replacement for the original book and all quotes are credited to the above mentioned author and publisher.