Procrastination is easy. Discipline is not. Doing a little bit every day will quickly add up to taking a large bite out of your next project.
“I’ll start it later.”
Click below to discover how to overcome that nasty gremlin we call procrastination…
Those are the four words I hear whenever I think about writing my next book. Those words are sooo liberating. They evoke the same feeling when I land on Monopoly’s community chest and turn up the get-of-jail-free pass. It’s my lucky day!
The do-it-later phrase comes in handy. I defer to it when I’m tired, bored or lazy because it’s so easy to use. Other than television, it’s the most effective procrastination device ever invented.
Lately, though, something has changed for me. It comes in the form of an extra word whispered into my ear after uttering my favorite phrase. Ironically, that fifth word has four letters…W-H-E-N.
At first I tried to ignore it. And that worked for awhile. Then it came back so I responded to it with a ‘later’. Unfortunately that only seemed to stoke its ire as ‘when’ became WHEN and then WHEN!! I needed to come up with an acceptable answer so I blurted out…NOW! Phew, that did it.
The next day was just another day for me. Same old routine, commute, work, commute, home, eat, sleep. Well, to be honest, the sleep part turned out to be a bit dicey. As soon as my head hit the pillow at 10:30, I heard the whisper of five words…”there is no time now.” And just so I couldn’t ignore it very easily it came with a visual of Dali’s painting of a melting timepiece. This was a clever choice since I’ve Surrealism has been one of my favorite art movements since I was a kid.
I started to think about what this five word phrase meant. Did it mean that it is too late to start now? That would be a very convenient procrastination device. So I went with it and fell asleep.
At around 3 AM, a horrific image of Dali’s melting clock on fire startled me out of my peaceful slumber. The clock was charred and the numbers on its face were no longer distinguishable. The meaning of my nightmare hit me like cold slap in the face:
Time is simply a construct of our minds. And if time ceases to exist as an idea, then there is no valid reality as ‘later’. The only reality we have is the present moment which amounts to a never-ending series of NOWs. This was a revelation that threatened to keep me up until dawn. Instead I chose to fall back asleep.
I allowed myself sleep because I knew, beyond a doubt, that tomorrow would be different for me. I understood that each moment I have a decision to make: do nothing or do something. And we you realize that your life-time is limited, why would you choose the former?
Now I strive to make the most out of each day. A little writing is better than nothing at all. And the amazing thing about doing something little by little is that it adds up to a lot very quickly. If I write a page every day I’ll have a book well before year end. The key is the discipline to take action every day. Sure, I’ll take a break when I feel like, but when the next day arrives it’s back to writing.
I freely admit that discipline is hard. However, creating a habit of daily action is powerful. It makes waking up to write that much easier.
Read on for three tips on how to create an action mindset for yourself.
Write notes to yourself and post them everywhere you look. When I reach into my pocket I’m sure to find a to do list there. I remind myself what I need to do. Typically the actions are for completion during the day or by end of the week. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with yearly goals. I post long-range goals to a list located in a more remote location.
When an idea pops into my head about something I need to do, I don’t think about doing it later. Instead I weigh the time it’ll take to implement the idea. If I determine that the task can be completed in 10 minutes or less, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing, as practice, and take the task on. Recommend you don’t take my advise if you’re on a hot date or putting out fires 😉
Got to Get It Done
Why am I writing now? That’s an easy one. It’s because I told myself on Friday that I needed to finish by Sunday evening. Yes, but it’s Sunday morning so then why don’t I wait until later. That’s also easy. There’s a football game on tonight. Everything fell into place by planning ahead and giving myself a deadline.
We all have many demands on our time. And once we realize that time is finite, day, week, year and life, we learn to adjust our schedule to fit what we want to accomplish. The key to getting stuff done is discipline. And the way to develop discipline is treating it like a muscle and work out by making lists, setting deadlines and fighting procrastination by doing what you can NOW!