Lifehack.org reader, Mark Roggenkamp asks this question through email:

Ever been doing something and have very tiny mental block that either sends you down a different path or causes you to put the primary task off to a later time?

I’ve come across this now and again. For example, I was updating my list of projects earlier today and I came across a project that I needed to split into multiple projects. It wasn’t going to take more than 5 minutes but I had a little microblock and thought about letting it be. The project was assigned to a co-worker so I asked him about and we went ahead and fixed it.

That same co-worker was coding something in python and came across something that was not quite so clean to write in python2.3 (but is in python2.4 which he’s recently become more familiar with). He hesitated and had a temporary microblock but then pushed through it and persevered.

I wonder if there is any other way to get through microblocks other than brute force, pushing through the block? I wonder how much microblocks cost businesses?

This is a typical example of procrastination. One encounters block from a task, hesitate about it and then let it slips. The delay or missing of feature may cause consequences on the overall project and cost businesses a fortune.

There are books and articles about procrastination. One article that I mentioned previously is How to Get Any Project Up and Running by Mark Forster. He mentioned a book called The 15-second Principle that says “a minimum of 15 seconds work a day on any project will bring it to fruition.”. The idea is to tackle a big project bits by bits. However I can think of a way to bring this into your issue’s perspective – promise yourself to do 15 seconds on the task that blocks you will help to go through the issues – at least you start thinking about it. When you are familiar with 15 seconds, try 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, try 1 minutes. Eventually you will get into the habit of tackle the problem immediately, even though it microblocks you.

What else? The 15 seconds also helps you getting started on a task. The first step is hard. The 15 seconds helps you taking away the commitment. This is combined with Joshua Newman’s idea on kick-starting a task. Joshua mentions “the subconscious resistance to getting started is the inherent internal commitment to keep going past that first step”. 15 seconds helps you disarming this completion commitment.

Of course, there are many other good strategies on killing procrastination. I am sure other readers will have their takes on this question – so feel free to comment.

Microblocks – [Mark Roggenkamp]

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