The Pomodoro technique helps me get work done when I’m stressed. You work in short bursts or blitzes, with even shorter breaks built in. The classic timings are 25 minutes of work, followed by 5 minutes of break. Repeat 4 times and take a longer break. It’s great for slogging through writing.
When I’m doing something especially distasteful, I shorten the spells, sometimes to as short as 10m work, 2m break! Even things I hate doing, I know I can bear for ten minutes. And once the first iteration is done, in my two minute breather, I tell myself … I can manage another ten minutes.
I’ve now found what I think is the ideal timer on the iPhone. It’s called Promodoro (note the extra r) and it’s simple and effective and flexible. It doesn’t cost very much either.