To start working on anything, you need a good motivation, which we covered in the first article. It would be best if you cared about what you want to be productive at. So let's skip that part.
In last week's article, we stated that we must first solve a two-piece puzzle to escape the procrastination maze:
1. How to start
2. How to build continuous workflow and be in-distractable
This week let's focus on the first piece. How to start?
Just do it!
Well, I wish it was that easy. How many times did you want to start a new project, learn to play an instrument, or write your Si-Fi story, but you never managed to do it?
It's wired. You have great motivation, you have all the energy to start, but somehow you never took the first step.
I suffer from this myself, and I wish there is a secret recipe for solving this problem, but there is none. In the first article, we agreed that we are all different and that what works for me may not work for you. We must experiment with the ingredients and build our own.
In last week's article, we mentioned that controlling our environment is the key. This week, we will explore some components that you could experiment with, try different combinations, and figure out what works for you.
First, let's zoom in on the moment when we decide "if" we want to start doing something. In a split of a second, we determine if we will do it now or later. Most of us end up with "I will start tomorrow." A week later, you remember you wanted to do that thing. And yet, you do it again and lie to yourself, "I will start tomorrow."
This is a typical procrastination scenario. Which sometimes can be justifiable if you are at the wrong place or time. You could try to force yourself to do it, but last week, we argued that using willpower is stupid and shouldn't be your first choice. If you reached that point, it's already too late.
The real problem with this type of procrastination is that you do it without making any clear next actions. To overcome that, you need to be smart and ready for next time.
When you find yourself at the moment again, when your brain starts making random excuses why you shouldn't do it now and before you move on with your day, pause for a minute and ask yourself: "what is the most simple thing, the no-brainer I could do to start?". It could be anything that you can do in 5mins or less.
For me, when writing a new article, a no-brainer is just to create a new doc and give it a title! It tricks my brain to stop thinking if I will start. Now the question turns to "what is the next step." And nothing bugs our brain more than unfinished business. Like that song stuck in your head, and you can't remember its name or lyrics.
If you can do the no-brainer right away, perfect, do it. If you really can't, you must make the when & where clear. "Later" and "tomorrow" are the wrong answers. Open your calendar and block 5 mins to do it. Pick a specific time, try to schedule it when you feel the most energic during your day. Maybe you need to take 10 mins to draw your energy map. For me, my energy peeks in the morning and sometimes late at night, so it's when I schedule the things I care about.
"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" - Benjamin Franklin
Now you know what you need to do and when, but that's not enough. Here is the part where you need to control your environment, or it will control you.
Next week, We will talk about this extensively.