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29 Aug

Something is more than nothing

Date: 2012-08-29 12:00 Comments: 0 st

There are times when you feel overwhelmingly reluctant to do what you know you will want to have done sometime soon.

You have a huge pile of unprocessed documents in the inbox that you really should deal with, but it feels completely insurmountable. Or you might have that incredibly boring and tedious task ahead of you that will take quite a while to finish and that needs to be completed before the week is over.

You have postponed it for a while already and notice how procrastination doesn’t exactly inspire you to action or bring your any pleasure after all – the task and the pile remains.

Perhaps that one perfect moment to get rid of the pile while feeling energized and inspired, will not appear out of thin air. Sure, you are well aware of that you need to get started, but just cannot seem to bring yourself to do so.

An embracing method

In general I would propose you reserve the required amount of time to do the task, close the door, turn off the telephone, and just do it.

But even I sometimes feel that it is impossible to force something into action when I really do not want to do whatever it is that needs doing. Let us instead try to embrace the resistance and reluctance we are experiencing, and make use of a strategy more appropriate to these circumstances. 

Allow yourself to “dab”, meaning to just do very little at a time.

Even if your do not process the entire pile at once, take a minute or two while doing something else to just process the first paper on top of the pile that is bothering or distracting you with its mere presence.

If you do this, it is as if you are doing two things at once, even though you are actually doing them sequentially.

If there are more than one task you feel reluctance towards getting started with, start doing one, then skip to the next one and read an e-mail that concerns that task, before doing yet a little on the first or on third task. Even if you do not complete the task now in one go, you will have started it and done at least a little.

What matters is that you do something that brings you closer to completing the task; what completion means and how long you have been procrastinating is irrelevant.

Anything but that is a step forward towards finishing it and not postponing it further.

Do this

  1. If you for instance wish to diminish that enormous pile waiting for you in the inbox, do a tiny part of what actually needs to be done.
  2. Once that is done, allow yourself to continue working on something else, something that feels effortless and easy to do.
  3. Give yourself an imaginary pat on the back for actually doing something concrete rather than postponing working on the task further.
  4. After a little while, do another small piece of the task.
  5. After another little while, do something else to propel the task forward towards completion.
  6. Or, leave it as it is and continue “dabbing”, doing small steps, tomorrow.
  7. You will finish the task eventually. Perhaps you will not have time to only do small steps at a time all the way through the task before it is due, but when you are working focused and concentrated in those last few hours to finish it up before deadline, you will thank yourself that you at least have less to do than you initially had and would have had if you hadn’t done small parts of it already. 

Leave the whip behind

With every small piece of the task that you actually do, you are decreasing the size of the remainder of the task.

You will now need to put in less effort right before deadline than you otherwise would have to, and you might even, almost without noticing, process the entire pile. You didn’t have to push yourself at the last minute and didn’t need to whip yourself to get it done.

Good for you.

Some might feel that this method divides your attention, but speaking for myself I sometimes prefer doing a bit of everything to being completely focused.
If I am lagging behind, it feels good to take small steps in many different projects since it feels as if I am progressing in several projects at the same time.

What is your way?

How do you make seemingly insurmountable tasks easier to do and eventually complete? Feel free to comment below and share!

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