Solar Flaring to Overcome Procrastination

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Solar Flare

There are two, out of many, ways you can overcome procrastination. You can jump right into the task, or you can ease yourself into it. The first method requires commitment and willpower to do, but there will be times when you will be lacking them. That’s when easing yourself into work can help you overcome procrastination and that’s what we call solar flaring at Asian Efficiency.

Solar flaring is a simple concept for beating procrastination. It is a term coined by one of our friends, Jim S and Nick D, and the idea is:

Start off with something very small and an easy thing to do, and use that forward momentum to get more work done.

Why did he call it solar flaring? Well, for one, he likes to give names to concepts that are related to astronomy phenomenas. Second, a solar flare is a sudden burst of explosions of energy on the surface of the Sun. They start off really small but turn into massive explosions. With the same concept in mind, you can apply this to beating procrastination. You start off with something small, perhaps you do something for five minutes, and before you know it you go from laziness to “work mode”.

This concept is so simple, but also very effective. You are essentially tricking yourself into “work mode” and you can apply this to any type of work. All you have to do is to say to yourself to do something for only a couple minutes. How hard is that? In reality, even when you are lazy and you are procrastinating, doing something for only a couple minutes is pretty easy to do. It is just another creative way to overcome procrastination.

Real world application

It not complicated to “trick yourself” into doing a small task. A simple way to do this is by positive self-talk using the word “just”. The implication of the word “just” says to yourself that you will not do anything more than what you told yourself. Saying to yourself, “I will just….” is all you need to do to get yourself started. Here are a couple examples how you can use solar flaring.

Exercising

  • Just put your iPod on and play some of your favorite music that you listen to when you exercise.
  • Just change into your gym clothes.
  • Just 5 minutes on the cardio machine.

E-mail

  • Just write out the sender’s email address, subject line, and a couple bullet points of things you want to write.
  • Just clean your inbox and get it to zero.
  • Just check up on emails you have to follow up on soon.

Cleaning living room

  • Just put the cups and dishes in the sink.
  • Just put the litter in the bin.
  • Just put the trash near the door on the way out.

Writing

  • Just create the Word document and save it into the right folder.
  • Just write the outline of the document.
  • Just write the introductory paragraph.

Caveat

While solar flaring is a great way to get yourself into the zone for getting work done, it can also be used in a negative way. The other way around works too where you “just do this (insert any excess activity)” can turn into hours of wasted time. Just playing that game on the PS3 can turn into hours of gaming. Or just going out for one hour for a drink with friends can turn into long hours deep into the night resulting in a hangover the next day. We have all been guilty of those. So be cautious how you use solar flaring.

Next Action

The next time you feel like procrastinating, keep the solar flaring technique in mind. Just do one small thing and before you know it, you are getting a lot of work done. You will just…..

Photo by _sarchi.

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About

I grew up in The Netherlands, went to university in Los Angeles and now I'm living in different places every couple months. When I'm not writing about personal productivity or time management, I'm probably trying out a new restaurant in the city I'm in (I love food!). One of my specialties is time management for organizations, executives and employees. The reason I started this blog with Aaron is that I love sharing my knowledge with people and helping them become a better person. This blog is a footprint I want to leave behind and I hope you get a lot of value out of my articles. Feel free to get in touch with me anytime!

10 Comments

Posted by Asian Larry  | June 3, 2011 at 5:02PM | Reply

RESPECT ON THE CREDIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Asian Larry

Posted by Michael Hrenka  | June 4, 2011 at 1:01PM | Reply

Solar Flaring is sure a great name for this trick. It helps to memorize it better. The basic concept isn’t new, but its easier to remind yourself to actually apply it when it has an interesting name. Thanks for writing that helpful post! :)

Posted by AE Thanh  | June 4, 2011 at 6:58PM

Yeah it’s definitely no new trick. You see so many people talk about this, but nobody ever came up with a name for this trick….till today :) Our friends always say stuff like “dude, just solar flare” to get someone overcome  procrastination.

Posted by bunyon  | April 21, 2012 at 10:35AM

Dragonball Z much?

Posted by Jordan  | July 30, 2012 at 6:49PM | Reply

I do this with blog posts. I’ll go into wordpress, put in a working title, write a few bullet points and publish as “private” until I’ve completed the post.

Works for me :)

Posted by Wonderful « My Blog  | September 17, 2012 at 4:39PM | Reply

[...] Ha. Say it. Now do [...]

Posted by j_l_larson  | December 15, 2012 at 10:58PM | Reply

I think of this as starting the energy flowing. Like water or a river, energy likes to keep going the direction it has started going. So once you get the energy flowing the direction you want, it is much easier for it to keep going that way for a while. I use this technique a lot. For instance, if I can’t get myself to start cleaning the house, I just say to myself: well, just pick up one or two things. And that is often enough to get me to at least clean up for a little while.

After the energy gets going for a while though… If I keep at it for too long, I find myself getting cranky. This is my signal to myself to stop for a while as I don’t want to associate the task with a bad mood, which would reinforce procrastination.

Reading your article got my energy flowing to express this idea publicly.

Thanks!

Posted by 效率低的日子怎么办? - 博客 - 伯乐在线  | April 25, 2013 at 2:04AM | Reply

[...] 克服延迟这种办法可在短期内有效地帮助我们提高效率。我们推荐现在最流行的两种方法分别是番茄工作法与Solar Flaring。另外,还有一个方法对一部分人很有作用:利用人的欠款心理。你需要把一大笔钱($500或$1000)交给你一个十分信任的朋友,而这钱只能在你真正完成任务的时候才能取回来。 [...]

Posted by Rick  | August 12, 2013 at 7:53AM | Reply

Sounds like a good idea, though it doesn’t always work for me.

By the way, the plural form of phenomenon is phenomena (no “s” needed). And the adjectival form of astronomy is astronomical.

Posted by Sean Oliver  | February 18, 2014 at 9:49PM | Reply

Nice, I’ve seen a lot of posts about doing the smallest possible step of a task. This is helpful.

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