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Sharpening the axe

Years ago, when I first started to plan my days, I started by setting aside time slots for doing specific tasks. For instance, I would block my calendar from 9 to 10 in the night to read and from 10 to 11 to write.

It has now been several months since I stopped actively scheduling specific hours of the day to do specific tasks.

Instead, what I do now is to always list down the next three to five steps I need to take in order to head in the direction of my goals. These steps tend to be very granular, very specific and very well-defined. So well defined that when I come across it on my to-do list, I don't need to think at all as to how I'm going to do it or what exactly I need to do. I can just sit down, start and finish that task all without waiting to pause one bit.

The time that I do schedule on my calendar now is to actually come up with such granular and well defined tasks for each of my goals. The moment my to-do list begins to dwindle, I know I need a few hours to think deeply about how I need to break down what comes next.

This approach has been working wonders.

It is because the thinking that goes into bringing clarity to the task and actually doing the task are now separated from each other and are done separately. Or as Abraham Lincoln would say, the four hours of sharpening the axe and the two hours of chopping down the tree are now separated from each other and are done independently.

Procrastination sets in only when there is a lack of clarity as to what needs to be done. It is very simple to banish procrastination when the tasks are well defined. 

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