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29 Aug

Something is more than nothing

Datum: 2012-08-29 12:00

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!