Originally Posted by Phil Newton
Another tactic I've started using for larger tasks is to set a timer for 50 minutes, and then to make sure I work at the task continuously for those 50 minutes. At the end, I get up and have a walk and some tea to let myself unwind. Having this reward at the end helps to keep me focussed.
At the other end of the spectrum, a post on lifehack a while back suggested working 10 minutes out of every hour. It's best for those days when you're fully motivated to do some things -- things like mailing letters and filing papers -- but unmotivated to do the really useful things like calling clients and setting up the new business department. It's especially good for us work-from-home entrepreneur types, since I can legitimately argue that reading stevepavlina.com IS an important business-related activity...but I still shouldn't be reading it for 8 hours/day.
It goes like this: Set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes. For those 10 minutes, work diligently on whatever truly important thing you have to get done today. (I have to get a chapter written for our business plan, or we're not going to get this franchise rolled out in January.) When the timer goes off, set it for 50 minutes. Then do your "semi-productive" things, like reading these forums or rearranging your to-do list layout for maximum clarity, until the timer goes off. Then do 10 minutes of super-productive stuff.
It won't take many of these rounds before you find the super-productive stuff more interesting than the semi-productive. But even if it is a really low motivation day, and you really spend 5/6 of your day working on semi-productive stuff, at least you started the really important things. And as Steve says, if you start something enough times, you'll eventually finish it.