Healthy Living

What Harry Potter Can Teach You About Productivity

How to stop procrastinating : a lesson from Professor Lupin
03/30/2017 08:30am ET | Updated June 1, 2017
Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images

“Follow the spiders? Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies?’” ~Ron Weasley

Remember the scene from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Professor Lupin introduces his class to the boggart?

A boggart transforms into whatever the person facing it fears the most.

It’s great that we have big aspirations and goals, but sometimes, they are just like that.

  • We think about all the books we want to read and in our mind, the list transforms into a massive, overwhelming stack of books, towering over us, making us afraid it’ll crush us underneath its weight.
  • We think about all the programming languages we want to master and, suddenly, the different tags, and operators, and lines of code chain themselves together into a vicious snake, ready to attack us from every angle.
  • We think about all the projects, papers and assignments we have to submit and soon, they assemble themselves into a floor of glass shards, ready to crack at our very next step, cut us and drop us into a bottomless pit.

Fortunately, the solution to dealing with daunting projects is the same as what Professor Lupin taught us about handling a boggart.

Remember the spell?

Riddikulus!

What if the task we are about to tackle wasn’t the first step of a massive climb?

What if it was…ridiculous?

Our first goal should be to laugh at the goal. The task you’re focused on completing must be ridiculously easy. Laughable. Not even a question.

“Ha! I can do this with my little finger!”

  • When you want to start reading a new book, make your only goal to read the first page.
  • When you want to learn a new programming language, make your only goal to write a sample line of code with one command.
  • When you want to write a paper, make your only goal to write the first sentence.

James Clear calls this the “two-minute rule.” Your very next task should take less than two minutes to complete. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself completing a lot more than you initially set out to.

An important note to make here is that technically, you’re done after the 2 minutes. It’s okay to stop. Whatever productivity spree follows, it must come naturally.

That’s the tricky part of dealing with a boggart:

You really have to believe in the magic of the spell for it to work.

Now, go. Set the timer. Turn the clock. And do something that’s…

…riddikulus!

Niklas Goeke publishes a weekly newsletter where he shares his best articles, book summaries and Quora answers with over 10,000 happy subscribers.

This article started as an answer on Quora.

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