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Let me just say this philosophical essay changed my way of working: Structured Procrastination

Basically it says that you should put urgent critical tasks at the very top of the list; but ones that would, on closer inspection, not be such a big deal to miss. Then you use those pressing tasks as motivation to actually work on items further down your list, of less importance. As you add even more urgent tasks later, this becomes an effective cycle where all tasks are at some point accomplished, while allowing you to happily ever procrastinate.

Right there with GTD -- embrace it!

Now, what are software implementations of the philosophy? Maybe todo lists that make it easy to put important tasks at the top in huge type, to gently coax you into doing the others down the list. Sure, if the software deliberately acknowledges Structured Procrastination, and if it tries to figure out which tasks you've been procrastinating on for long enough, that's even better.

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Is there a summary for TL;DR people? –  Tom Wijsman Dec 15 '11 at 3:07
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Sounds like setting your alarm clock fast to scare you into getting out of bed in the morning. But the article's in Instapaper now, so perhaps I'll be able to answer once I read it. –  Adam Wuerl Dec 15 '11 at 15:12
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Last month they published a book amazon.com/… . I have not read it, but I think you could find further advice in it. And if you find a good software, let me know! –  laika Nov 16 '12 at 8:15

4 Answers 4

I've read a bit about the idea of structured procrastination. The technique looked to me like a trick that can work initially but soon it may be ineffective. From my many readings about procrastination and resisting doing the top priority tasks, I come to think that:

  • we should acknowledge this human nature tendency (resisting the top priority and most helpful activities and going to something else, no matter how good it is)
  • categorize our tasks according to their real priority and urgency e.g. Stephen Covey four-quadrant categorization is a good candidate)
  • plan daily, even sub-daily, the tasks that we want to do
  • monitor daily the priorities and urgency levels of the tasks that we did. This way we will face the reality of our daily procrastination through concrete indicators
  • compare the plan against what you actually did

The choice of software for this method requires the ability to record the actual work, not just the planned work. But do we always need a software to do that? After trying lots of software to realize my method, I found out, to my surprise, that I would have had better started it using paper forms, e.g. designed in a spreadsheet software, until the technique is tailored exactly to the kind of work I do and became a second nature.

And it is easy to change and improve a paper form and reprint it, white it is harder to tailor a certain software to your needs as they evolve, especially when you do not own its code.

After having the technique tailored fully and became a second nature, I started my search for a software to do it (I ended up developing it myself).

In short, I prefer a head-on method to fight procrastinating the top priority tasks instead of going for tricks that we hope it can make the things easier to do.

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First of all I wish to state that I'm professionally connected which OneMln LTD company the creator of SmartGTD App. Writing this just in case as I will referrer to it later one.

There is app coming called SmartGTD What you can do in it in order to achieve Prioritization Assign Now, Next, Later marks (as time insensitive) Next put a duration and reminder at ten as "due date"

Scheduled (as time sensitive)

To any of those "markers" you are able to add "Attitude" tags so whatever you decide to assign proper attitude to each and every task.

You have calendar within you can filter events by Attitude mark as well processing this which you want really to process.

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David Allen (@gtdguy) commented in one podcast or another that the better his home and garden looked, the bigger were the issues on his lists that he was avoiding. I think he called it "useful procrastination" rather than structured. The sense is the same - keep things on your lists that are useful to do when you don't want to do something else that is "more important".

The standard GTD process does not include explicit prioritizing of your tasks, although many people include it in their implementation. The canonical GTD expects that you review your lists often enough that when you look at them you know intuitively which things are more important right now. That lets you choose which thing to work on, and you can apply "structured procrastination" on the fly as you like, regardless of how you have implemented your lists.

If you are using a software implementation, all of the software list managers I know of allow you to set a priority, and sort your lists in priority order. If there's one that doesn't, you could hack it by changing your task names to start with A_, B_, C_, etc. to give it a priority, then do an alpha sort. The disadvantage of attempting to do this prioritization in software is that your evaluation can change minute by minute and location by location. An "A" priority task that requires 2 hours when I have 15 minutes before my next meeting might as well not show up on the list that I'm looking at. An "A" task that needs me to next do something at a different location than where I currently am shouldn't show up either.

The principle behind "Structured Procrastination" I think is a good one, and very useful in conjunction with GTD. Attempting to have software make decisions that are better made by you on the fly I think is not.

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And Stephen Covey says in his books that "the enemy of the best is the good". Brene Brown also talks about this sort of behavior when we want to avoid doing the top priority tasks. –  Mohamad Fakih Jun 29 '13 at 6:03
    
I totally agree with "Attempting to have software make decisions that are better made by you on the fly I think is not." Software should help us recall and gather what otherwise we can forget, but, in my view, we should not try to find a software that mimic our extremely complex brain functioning. Else we'll always try but never find The Perfect Software. –  Mohamad Fakih Jun 29 '13 at 6:07

Toodledo

It has an automatic prioritization system and scheduling system.

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