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I find it so easy to get bored with what I should be focusing on and I start going into all the finer details and processes around actually doing the task. Before long something that should be a quick and easy task has become a big mission (code rewrite etc).

How do you prevent this task fatigue and stay focused?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Ask yourself; My tasks realy has to these unimportant details?

If you say yes, then they are not unimportant. They are a part of your task. Keep doing them. Some of your tasks could include a lot of details. So, how can you define "finished task" with not doing some details? Also don't bored with doing them. Learn how to get fun with doing them.

If you say no, remove these details in your task. They are waste of time. And they can make you unproductive. Jump to other detail or another task.

Laura Spencer has a great article called How To Stay Focused: 7 Ways To Keep On Task. Read it. These are very good advice.

Also read What should I do with my 30min break using the Pomodoro Technique for what should you do in your break time and how can you stay focus.

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It sounds like you are finding other things to do and working on them with your task. One way to deal with this is write down the things you think of but stay focused on the core of your desk. That way you don't lose your focus/train of thought but also don't forget about the other items. Then when you need a break/complete the main task, you can prioritize the other items.

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Say you were code rewriting. Plan ahead how much time you're spending in a row. I suggest anything between 25-50 minutes, followed by a short break of 5-10 minutes. If the task is finished move on to the next, if not repeat the procedure.


Doing difficult or boring tasks can make you very vulnerable to distractions. Maybe you've just had an idea that can't be forgotten, maybe it's something important you've just remembered. When that happens, write every one of them in short sentences with only enough details to remember later, then continue doing your main task and avoid doing anything that wasn't planned even if it relates to code-rewriting.

These avoided interruptions should be converted in other tasks or be handled during your breaks. The important thing is that you don't allow them to break the flow of your main task.

These instructions are part of the Pomodoro Technique on the specific topic of interruptions. I suggest reading the whole thing at

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Consider building out an "Urgent/Important Matrix" that may help. Urgent/Important Matrix illustration

That may give you an idea of what is worth doing now and what may be worth doing next. If you see 101 things in the important boxes that may give a bit of motivation to just get something done rather than procrastinate on it some more.

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This is usually another form of procrastination it is more pallatable because you are doing things just not the right things. It usually stems from fear of the unknown or the fear of failure. Both of these can be solved by confronting your fear and doing a little project planning. Instead of working on the details grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions:

Why am I doing this project?
- If you can't answer this you will not be able to get motivated to do the task.

What does success look like?
- If you can't see what success looks like how will you know when you are done.

How else can I solve the problems?
- Sometimes the easiest way to get motivated again is to try to see better 
  solutions either you will find that the path you are taking is the best 
  or you will find a better way either way the forward movement in planning 
  will help organize your work.

Have you tried working backwards?
- Starting with you vision of success and only completing tasks that are 
  required to implement that vision is a good way of staying on task.

Pretend you are delegating it to someone else?
- If you have a team great but even if you don't the act of trying to be 
  specific enought to hand the work off does wonders for clarifying what 
  you are trying to do.

Hope this helps.

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Visible list of your tasks and goals for the day as a reminder of what you're supposed to be doing.

I have found it helpful to spend 5 minutes at the start of the day to "micro plan" (I think Jeff Atwood suggested this as well) and write down my goals for the day: a reasonable list of things that, if I finished them I'd be very satisfied with my day.

I get a fair amount of satisfaction from crossing things off my list and being able to look at what I did. This reinforces and encourages the longer term payoff of discipline it takes to stay on task.

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This happens to me all the time. On my personal approach, I found that some of these tasks required my attention because, even when they were not as important or blocked the task that I had to do at all, I knew that if I didn't do them at the moment, I would forgot later, and that would result in a future problem.

So, what I did is tackle the "I forget" problem. I started writing them down as future tasks in my task tracking system, but that somehow wasn't quick enough to allow my flow to continue without distracting me.

So I bought some regular post-its, and when I come to one of this tasks, a quick writing on them (it's only for me), pin them to the wall, and move on. It sounds weird, but having the task written down on paper makes me feel more "accomplished" about not forgetting about it, and having it on the wall looking at me, hunting me down, gives me motivation to get rid of it later.

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