Recently I wrote about the difficulties I had in the last months to get to the bottom of things. Coincidentally, I've read an article about a small software designed to help getting this done: Pomotroid. The very first use of Pomotroid have been so successful that I happily tweeted about it (see at the very end).
Pomotroid is based on the Pomodoro Method. The name comes from the tomato-shaped timer that Francesco Cirillo used in the 80s to manage his working time; pomodoro being the Italian word for tomato. The method is fairly simple: work for 25 minutes on a task, then have a 5 minutes break. That's one pomodoro. After four pomodori, take a longer break (usually 15 minutes), then repeat.
I've been using the Pomodoro Method in the last ten days and I'm frankly convinced of its benefits! The main reason being that 25 minutes hardly feel like a long duration. If you're reluctant about doing something because you anticipate it to be difficult/long/boring, it's easier to force yourself if the initial deal is "ok, it's only for 25 minutes". Moreover, one says the hardest part is the first 5 minutes, ie the time to get into a task really.
But, yes, I hear you, some tasks require more than 25 minutes. Never mind, take the 5 minutes break and come to the task again after. 5 minutes are not enough to make you loose track of what you were doing. On the opposite, that gives your brain a break, fueling again with oxygen and sugar while your using your muscles to get a coffee downstairs :) When you're back to your task, your mind is refreshed and ready to be productive again!
One warning, though. A task should not need more than three pomodori. Well, that probably is arbitrary, but you can find your own threshold. But whether it be two, three or four, stick to it! If a task needs more than time, you should turn the task in a project and split it in several tasks again.
At the end of the day, achieving tasks becomes very rewarding, and you'll be suprised to say "ok, one more pomodoro !" :D
Oh, one last advice about getting things done: don't forget the rule "if it takes less than two minutes, do it now" ;)