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Breaking the downward procrastination spiral using Trello and Pomodoro

Tools to help

(Pen and Paper) A page to keep notes and a list of distractions that you'll look after, after the session ends.

Trello to track your tasks

A mobile app that has pomodoros in it. You'll find 1000s of app on searching with many different features! (If you are finding it hard to choose, popular options like FocusMeter or Forest or Focus Timer)

That one task that hasn't moved in a while wants you to do this...

Have you been sitting on this task that you know is important. But is uninteresting, undoable, incomplete and you know, ...stagnant?

Is it that old important Task on your Trello board that has too much work? Is it an article that you've been meaning to write? Exercising? Talking to your 6th grade best friend? Doing the dishes? Getting up from bed? Existing?

No alt text provided for this image

Let's start with why this happens.

Why do I not wanna do it?

Well there can be a couple of reasons:

It's too easy and adds no fun to your life

That just isn't the case with most things. But if you can't delegate it, it's still worthwhile to do it. Because if it's so simple, let's get done with it right? It takes some time, it will take someone's time, why shouldn't an expert do it?

It's too much out of your comfort zone

This one is the most common. And you know what, it's the hardest to admit. It also, is the easiest to base your procrastination on. But doing the part you can, still makes you much better. Just showing up, makes 60% of the effort.

It was forced upon you

You don't wish to do it. Someone said you have to do it. Someone backed out at the last moment and you are stuck with it. You don't support the cause it serves. Well, this can be solved. Why don't you voice your opinions. Not without work, I am sure you wouldn't do that. Let's do our bit of research and prove why this isn't worth our time or add some inputs for the one that takes it up. Add a spice that makes you want to do it.

There is no reward

"Thrice I did it flawless, no one noticed, once I messed up, they still talk about it". There's only a little I'll say about this. Getting off the cognitive load of a pending task is much more rewarding than the task itself. Embrace that.

People will judge me for doing it

And they still judge you for not doing it. You are skilled, you can win, you know that. It'll get better, people will forget. Even better, ask them for help, maybe that's what they are looking for. Or that's what they are least expecting. Works either way.

Detecting the spiral

I can't exercise because I don't have motivation

I don't have motivation to exercise because I feel too unfit

I feel too unfit because I don't exercise

I can't exercise because...

It can be hard to live with when you suddenly realise these feelings. And they'll happen unsuspecting. Eating a meal, laying down to sleep, doing the curtains, looking in the mirror. You'd realise that something is broken. My advice, don't be hard on yourself.

Where Pomodoro comes in...

30 minutes isn't a long time. 25 minutes even less.

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A Pomodoro timer is a commitment to perform some task for 25 minutes and sitting with it before drawing conclusions. There are cool apps (some that I'll attach at the end) that can help you do this. With those apps (clubbed with a Google Home), I've driven myself out often. One of the following things will happen:

  1. You might have some better context of the problem
  2. You might like the problem and invest further
  3. You might have some pointers to give to someone
  4. You might realise it isn't boring
  5. You might realise it isn't too hard
  6. You might end up completing it

Or it might still be something that you rather wouldn't do. But now, you have some idea and some homework around why it does and doesn't work for you. You have the right to say, I spent good focused 25 minutes on this and realised it won't work. Here are the facts. I am not saying it without analysing completely.

And needless to add.. If it ends up being interesting, another pomodoro is always an option!

So then a promise...

Next time you find yourself procrastinating over a task, in a mental rut, feeling helpless. Promise me this.

"I will spend less than thirty minutes on this. But for these 25 minutes, I will assume that the task is possible, and I am capable to do it."

Here is how I do it using Trello
Screenshot 2021-09-24 at 5.40.35 PM.png


Another option is to break the task down even further. For example if your blocker is I can't exercise because I don't have motivation, that can be too big of a lift. So how can you break it down?

I used to power through jumping rope for 3 minutes straight without pausing. Then I tore up my knees and had to have surgery so I had to start over, but it was too hard!

What I did was say, "okay I'm not gong to get back up to 3 minutes, so what's the minimum I can do and feel I accomplished something?"

The answer was 10 jumps. So that's what I did, almost every day, for two weeks.

Then I bumped it up to 15, then 20, then 25.

Then I decided I could double that.

So now I'm doing 50. Next step is to do 100.

If 100 is too much, then ease back to 75.

The goal is to work up to 250, and that should be 3 minutes of jumping rope.

Like Nipun Aggarwal likes this
Nipun Aggarwal
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
Nov 29, 2021

Such a pretty comment @Bryan !

Gives me the vibe of this quote: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

Nipun Aggarwal
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
Nov 29, 2021

I hope you reach 800 jumps someday!


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