being productive

Change #1: Unprocrastination

I was given a copy of “52 Changes” by Leo Babauta, so I did some reading over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Truth be told, I was a little skeptical and was ready to pass the book off as some New Year feel-good thing. After all, I was on the resolutions treadmill for years, getting all psyched up before the year’s end, making an impossible list of goals, only to forget them by the end of January.

That said, I do want to see some changes in my life. Making a list of lofty goals didn’t work, but perhaps tackling small changes on a daily, consistent basis is what I needed to see these changes established in me. 

Which is where this book comes in. It’s a simple one. Leo outlines 52 changes you can make in 52 weeks. He breaks down the changes into small, achievable steps that you can practice and create the change in you.

Some of the changes tackled are:

#2: Unprocrastinate
#7: Most Important Things (MITs)
#12: Pay a small debt
#22: Let go of a vice

And some fun ones:

#11: Floss
#16: Eat some veggies

You don’t have to do all 52 changes – just the ones that resonate or create your own. So I thought, why not? Let’s experiment and see if I can make a simple change and, more importantly, make it stick.

I didn’t have to go very far into the book. Unprocrastinating was my first pick. I am so easily distracted by all sorts of “busy” yet unproductive work that I often delay doing what I need to do till late at night or the next day. I know if I don’t procrastinate, the payoff will be huge. That seemed like motivation enough.

How to unprocrastinate:

  1. Set aside some time every day for unprocrastination.
  2. Before your start time, have an important task picked out. Just one task.
  3. Clear distractions.
  4. When the start time comes, focus on just getting started. Nothing else in the world matters more than getting started at the time.
  5. When you notice the urge to switch to something more comfortable, pause. Don’t act. Just watch. It’s OK to have the urge, but what’s important is learning that the urge doesn’t control you. You can watch it, even if that’s a bit uncomfortable. Watch the urge, breathe, and then return to your important task.
  6. Repeat the above step as many times as necessary.
  7. Enjoy the process. When we dread something, we put it off – but instead, if we can learn to enjoy it, it won’t be as hard or dreadful. Put yourself in the moment and enjoy the task. Let go of the dread and focus on the pleasantness and joy of the doing.

That sounded like a plan. But to make it work harder for me, I would add the following to Leo’s steps:

  1. Identify your stumbling block. I realize my biggest stumbling block was email. I open that first thing in the morning, and I get sucked into a deluge of inquiries, interviews, and stuff that seems infinitely more fun, like checking out the latest shopping deals. Whatever your stumbling block, make sure it’s off.
  2. Set your timer. I got myself a timer and cranked it up to 60 minutes every morning to unprocrastinate. No email. Just the one task I needed to do. And surprisingly, it feels awfully good to be totally immersed in concentration till the buzzer rings. Intensity rocks.
  3. Make a weekly plan. If you don’t know what you want to achieve, the 60 minutes will be nothing more than glorified time-wasting. Select your tasks the night before, or make a weekly plan. I prefer the weekly plan as it gives me an overall focus for the week.

I am very happy to report the experiment is going well. My days have been super productive when I honor these 60 minutes. And it leaves me with some time at night to catch up on Korean dramas. Yay!

Get the 52 Changes book here.

Similar Posts


  1. This has nothing to do with your above article, I just wanted to say how much I look forward to your IKEA Hack updates. It's the first place I go when I get online. It's fun to see peoples creativity and different perspectives. Thanks so much for putting in the time an effort to have such a great site.

  2. Your IKEA blog got me here and I must say what a fantastic job you have done there. That place is really beautiful filled with so much of creativity. Just want to say…hope you have a good day.

  3. Even I face this procrastination problem but it comes to me in cycles wherein sometimes I procrastinate and sometimes I am so strict on myself. I'm sure that in the end it will balance out for good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *