I have to read an absolute boatload of papers. I procrastinate starting and have trouble staying on task because I care so little about the topics.

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” How do you differentiate from getting things done“, my mentor asked. 

What? 

“You know, the famous bestseller author about how to organize yourself”  He continued.

I rambled.  I  could see in his face he wasn’t convinced at all.

From that point,  the message was clear.  I needed to read this book and additional cross-functional topics provide him feedback.

So I ordered some books on Amazon and received it a few days later.

At first, I was excited, but things slowly changed and I couldn’t understand why.

On day 1,  I looked at the Book, the Books look at me. I did nothing.

On day 3, it was still on the shelves. I started to worry about getting through this amount of paper.

On day 7  The book was in my office, but it was kind of invisible to my eyes.

Lesson 1: Again it is not about time management  

had a negative association  between “Reading  Non-fictional Book” from the start/ Boring

Indeed, most of the productivity books are a set of facts. Even if I am aware they provide great content, reading them bored me to death.   So it is about getting over the Lack of interest first.

Lesson 2: your mindset matters: “Read to learn “is not enough, “Read to share ” instead

As a chronic procrastinator, we love discovering new things but hate repetition.  So as soon the thought   “I got it”  do arise in our mind, we are done. 

Your Egotistic behavior represents one additional layer of the resistance that is holding you back.

That’s You better act as if you would have to explain anything you digest. Make sure you extract, reframe and record the main takeaways. Thaprevents you from being too impatient to finish reading through all the material.

Lesson 3 : avoid perfectionism 

First Forget about the amplitude (how many pages should I read  to understand) and  forget about the duration (How much time should It takes?)

Focus on the frequency Instead.   The number of

Ex:  “I will do at least 5 sessions of reading”.

It doesn’t matter if it is sessions of 1 min or 15 min provided that you read something.

All you have to do now is to narrow down your attention to achieving the first sessions. And you get a sense of progress sessions after sessions.

 

How to start and maintain reading a boatload of useful papers you find boring?

Option 1:  Quick discontinuous process:  intensive sport/ Cold shower

If you have many papers to read within a short period of time, Do sport or take a cold shower.  This will unconsciously trigger all the actions you naturally dislike. So don’t be surprised if you feel the spark of reading papers without any planning upfront during the next hours  (for cold shower) or the next 2 days (for Sport). 

This method is quick, effective, effective. You get  Concentrate on only 1 thing (sport/ taking a cold shower) in order to achieve multiple things (reading, understanding, paperwork, etc).

 

Option 2: Continuous smooth process

If you don’t like Option 1,  Then I suggest you follow a gentle path.

Step1 (Pre-Start) reduce the mental resistance 

Put printed version  of the papers  where you usually go when you procrastinate

Use one of these 3-effective-quick-techniques to remove the emotional layer that is holding you back. Visualization, free writing, conscious fear generation

Step 2 : (Start) : trigger reading 

Reward yourself before but don’t finish the reward 

As soon as you think about going through reading these papers and hesitate, take a step back.

Focus on frequency 

Start whatever paragraph or sentence that caught your attention. Then immediately summarize what you understand and how it could help you. 

Then continue or stop. During the next session repeat the same process. 

Step 3:(Repeat): make sure you are going to keep the following trough 

At this point, you succeed reading a few paragraphs and you got some momentum. Now there is a danger of relaxing

Put visual reminders that you draw yourself and put it where you usually go when you procrastinate.

This will allow you to maintain the task of reading at the top of your priorities.

 

 That is. There is no point to think about the long term if you can’t make the short term happen.

I challenge you to take a cold shower today.

PPS : the 21-day Reading challenge 

We are opening 21 days Reading Challenge to help you through the process of reading all the things you had accumulated. If you want to participate describe your use case here. 


Heudou Tchihikou Aubin 

A master chronic procrastinator who chose to execute on his dreams because of frustration and self-criticism

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