Some of the most successful and productive people I've ever met all have something they use to help them overcome procrastination. Some may call it a routine or ritual. I like to call it the "Productivity Catalyst". It's the thing that pushes you to start working — to finally get that one thing done that leads to the next thing and so on.
A productivity catalyst is simply something you do each and every time before you begin working. It puts you in the right mindset because it's what you always do immediately before you start working. Earnest Hemingway sharpened pencils before he started writing; Charles Dickens arranged trinkets on his desk.
Without a catalyst, it's so easy to procrastinate because nothing acts as a "signal" that you're going to start working. You're stuck, trying to drive uphill when you haven't even started the car.
My catalyst is preparing a cup of tea. Because there are several steps — heating the water, selecting the tea, scooping and packing the loose tea into a tea ball, pouring the water over the tea, watching as it steeps — it becomes a short ritual that I carry out with my full attention. I can then sit down and, say, write this article. Maybe yours is waking up early, preparing morning coffee, taking a shower, doing 15 minutes of exercise or stretching, or even just commuting to work.
Don't let yourself procrastinate: find your productivity catalyst. It's one of the most important tools you'll ever acquire.
The Productivity Catalyst [Unwieldy]
Joshua Gross is co-founder of BundleScout, a smarter way to keep up-to-date with the web development tools and libraries you use. He tweets at @endtwist, and periodically writes short articles on his blog about life, design, development and startups.