In this two-part series, you’ll discover the four simple strategies to get you focused & moving. (Read Part 1 here)
I know darn well when I’m deliberately dodging some task I need to just sit down and focus on. You know it when you’re doing it too.
We can feel the tension rise within us when our logical mind says, “You need to get this done so you’re on top of that project”. Which prompts something illogical inside us to respond, “No! I don’t want to. And you can’t make me!”
Let’s face it. An inner battle of wills between our logical adulting self and our rebellious inner 5 year old (who is probably just tired and needs a nap…or a vacation or something) only results in lots of wasted time, additional self-induced stress, and a side order of guilt.
Remember when your kids were 5 years old? Direct confrontation to override their rebellion just caused more of the same, along with a lot of tears and frayed nerves. It’s human nature to rebel when feeling controlled.
I’ll bet you had a couple of tricks up your sleeve though to distract the 5 year old from whatever he/she was pouting about. Once distracted in a positive way, things started moving forward in the manner that you, the adult, wanted to in the first place. Everybody’s happy.
We can employ that same technique with ourselves
to get focused on what needs to be done right now.
That’s usually 2/3 of the struggle anyway – just getting started.
Let’s continue with our last two strategies to help us quickly and painlessly get started, even when we don’t feel like it.
(If you missed Part 1 of this article with the first two strategies, click HERE to read)
Strategy #3: Brainstorm With Paper and Pen
Staring at a blank screen when you need to write that report can be daunting. Problem-solving when you don’t have a clue how to proceed is an invitation to profound procrastination. The uncertainty involved in outlining a product launch campaign to a new market can leave you feeling defeated before you start.
For any type of creative thinking or problem-solving task, sometimes we need a risk-free, pressure-free way to get the creative juices flowing.
Leave it to old fashioned pen and paper to save the day.
- Draw a circle in the middle of the paper. In the center of the circle write down whatever the outcome is you’re trying to accomplish.
- Now start brainstorming by drawing lines radiating out from the circle with various ideas. Each line represents a different idea, potential strategy, task, or other related items.
- As it starts to flow, you’ll naturally draw other lines radiating from those tasks until the page looks like a free-flowing map of ideas, tasks, resources, and other brilliant components.
- Next, take out another sheet of paper and organize the best pieces of your mind map into categories of actions or concepts, or a timeline of tasks and sub-targets.
Brainstorming with the mind map technique is a mental no-editing zone,
so using an ink pen rather than a pencil will keep the ideas flowing freely,
unencumbered by the temptation to erase and make it look perfect, with only the “right” ideas.
Scribbles and scratch-overs are a badge of honor in the creative process, so let it flow.
Strategy #4: Three Small Wins First
For those days when the resistance force runs strong with this one, shift gears and try this counter-intuitive strategy.
Conventional wisdom tells us to start with your Three Most Important tasks first thing in the day while you’re still fresh, then no matter what happens the rest of the day, you can lay your head on your pillow at night, knowing all is well.
While I agree wholeheartedly with that reasoning, there’s times it backfires on us. When you look at your Three Most Important To-Do tasks and feel the resistance rising, chiding yourself about it is counter-productive.
You can apply this helpful strategy one of two ways…
- Take the first Most Important task on your list that you’ve been dodging and break it down into three or more micro-tasks. Now apply Strategy #2 from last time, “Beat The Clock” and set your timer for 20 minutes. Turn it into a game to get one of more of the micro-tasks accomplished before the timer goes off, then give yourself a 10 minute reward. Re-set the timer and do it again.OR
- Find three short, quickly accomplished, secondary tasks also on your list for today and knock those out first.
Getting three check marks with a little natural feel-good brain squirt can often be just enough to positively distract that inner 5 year old into wanting another check mark. Check marks represent daily “wins”, which feel good, and don’t we all want that?
Write these four strategies on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall in front of your desk.
Use it as a “Go-To” the next time you really need
to get started on something important, but just don’t feel like it.