We all go through bouts of procrastination during a work or study session. It’s not that we don’t want to complete what’s expected of us, it’s that we often have so much going on that it’s hard to sit and focus on our most important task.

For those of us here at HackCollege, productivity is an all-too-interesting subject. As college students and young workers, we struggle to keep it all together in order to accomplish our goals.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to get things done is to set simple goals for yourself and work your way up to a fully-completed task. Merlin Mann of 43 Folders suggests running a “dash” to jump-start productivity.

A dash is “simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time — perhaps as little as just one minute.”

The idea is to cause a ripple effect by completing a small goal, then set more and more until you’re motivated enough to just sit down (or stand up) to finish something in its entirety.

The Dashes

  • Time-based dash” — If you need to clean your room but lack the motivation, set a timer for five minutes and do the simplest thing. You could pick up your dirty clothes, throw away the food containers you have sitting around from the night before, or organize your bookshelf. You’ll probably find that — whatever your task was — it was not worth putting off.
  • Unit-based dash” — Finishing your required reading can be difficult when all you want is to be out enjoying yourself. But if you set a goal of reading just one page, you may find that you actually enjoy the subject matter and you’ll be have it completed in no time.
  • Combination dash” — When writing, I like to set a goal of one paragraph or ten minutes. The first paragraph is often the most difficult, causing frustration and subsequently, procrastination. If I simply can’t find the words to begin an article, I’ll start anywhere. As long as I’m being productive, things usually end up falling into place.

Kick procrastination’s ass: Run a dash | 43 Folders via 99u

Related: 4 Habits that Highly Effective People Don’t Have

Image: William Warby