Get to a stopping point.

stopA stopping point can be a potential time waster’s best buddy, but you have to know how to use it. To illustrate proper use, I’ll run an example.

Let’s say you’re adequately skilled with a computer (which I assume you are, because… you know… internet and such). Someone will eventually find out about it and try to recruit you for something. You might need to create a handout, letter, or website for ‘the man’ at some point. There are many strategies to avoid doing this, and most will be discussed at a later time, but here’s something you can do for yourself immediately.

Define stopping points ridiculously close together when you have to do something. So after you waste as much time as humanly possible before getting started, go ahead and crack open that word processor. Think about a title and type that in large letters at the top. Something like “Proposal,” or “First Draft,” or “Title to be decided later.” Now take a break. That’s a pretty good stopping point. Maybe it’s time for a snack.

Heck, you can even do better than that. Need to research something? Just Google it, open a few webpages, bookmark the lot of them for future reading, and ta-dah! Stopping point.

Next step. You’ll want to define stopping points very far apart for your own useless activities. Now that you’re taking a break, pick up your favorite book, and just read a few chapters. Actually, maybe 6 chapters…7. Yeah seven seems good. So we’re agreed, eight. O.K. Just make it a round 10. Well, there’s only 13 chapters left. Just finish the book, and then you can get back to what you were doing.

And when you do get back, set up a reward system after every 100 words or 8 minutes or so. Tell yourself it’s to keep you motivated and on track. No sense in burning out, right? It works great.

After all, there’s a reason why I only post once a week. This seems like a good place to stop.

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