A couple of years ago I had one of those Keep Calm and Carry on posters on my wall. I felt kind of cool for awhile, because I was ahead of the curve with it down here in the Antipodes (They’re all over the shops here now, along with those fake bus blinds. Welcome to 2008, New Zealand!) But after awhile its very presence on my wall started to stress me the heck out.
At the time I was just.getting.through.the.days with a major house renovation, a difficult pregnancy, my big girl starting school, and all the other usual dramas of family life, and somewhere along the line the poster’s admonition didn’t help.
Stop telling me what to do, poster!
But here’s the thing I found in the midst of it. If I got going and did something – anything – I’d have more go to do something else. Sitting in my armchair while the room grew dark around me, playing that damn whack-a-mole level of Plants Vs Zombies, was not an effective way of getting started on any endeavours, creative or practical.
HabitHacker has got it right –
If you improve your habits and put routines on autopilot, you’ll have more time for creative endeavors.
The art of habit leads to the habit of art.
Tim and I have found time and time again that if the kitchen is tidied, the living room floor isn’t covered in unfolded laundry and the books that Mr 18-months has ripped off the bookshelf (again) then we find ourselves magically Doing Things. Making jam, collage-ing stuff, sending out Postcrossing postcards, or doing some coding on some side-project of Great Awesomeness. Whereas if we’re sitting in a Living Room of Great Squalor after the kids are in bed, then we’re more likely to dive down the rabbithole of the Internets, or start playing dumb computer games without enjoying it or even really wanting to.
Does this make us tidy up immediately after dinner? Not always! But we’re trying, and it makes a difference. Baby steps down the hall, and all that.
How to get started, get excited, and do something:
Run a dash
9/10 productivity experts on the internet agree, timers are the way to go! Merlin Mann calls this Running a Dash:
My favorite tonic for procrastination—which I have mentioned in passing previously—is what I call a dash, which is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute. By breaking a few tiny pebbles off of your perceived monolith, you end up psyching yourself out of your stupor, as well as making much-needed progress on your overdue project. Neat, huh?
He online casino has some excellent techniques on how to do this. I particularly like how he suggests giving yourself two criteria for success: 10 minutes of picking up crap in your garage or one trash bag full, whichever comes first.
Fool yourself to work
In order to be successful, we have to work hard, no matter what. We can’t always be at the mercy of our motivation.
I am lazy. But that’s okay, because I have some tricks for fooling myself into working, every single day. Actually, I’m quite productive thanks to these tricks.
Stop procrastinating and do what you love
Maaike’s latest post on her glorious new blog talks about how to find your passion in life:
What is it that you love to do? Which activities make you forget about time and put you in an enticing flow? That’s what you need to figure out, birdies!
Get those ideas out there, imperfect though they are
Last word goes to the glorious Ze Frank
I run out of ideas every day! Each day I live in mortal fear that I’ve used up the last idea that’ll ever come to me. If you don’t wanna run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to do ’em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack.
No matter how bad things get, at least you have those good ideas that you’ll get to later.
Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone’s clapping for them.
But the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do ’em. And no matter how much you plan, you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed the first time you do something it’ll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who’s still dreaming of all the applause.
When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, ’cause I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.
Watch the video below for the inspiring speech. (Probably PG)
And then – run a dash and see where you end up!