Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Overcoming Resistance to Get Stuff Done

ZenHabits has a great post on how to overcome resisteance to get things done:

...getting things done is really about one thing, and one thing only: overcoming the resistance to doing what we need to do.

OK, I would add a couple more steps to that, to ensure that we’re managing our tasks correctly:

  1. Have all our projects and tasks stored in an external system (out of our heads), such as a to-do list or lists.
  2. Pick the tasks and projects that are most important to work on.
  3. Overcome the resistance to actually doing those important tasks.

And I would submit it’s the last step that’s the most important (although I wouldn’t ignore the other two). Unfortunately, because we’re not very good at overcoming resistance, we procrastinate on this third step by fiddling with the external system — the tools we use to organize our tasks, coming up with new and better systems, tweaking them until they’re near perfect, and so on.

That’s Resistance.

As Stephen Pressfield writes in his excellent book on this topic, The War of Art:

“There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.

What’s keeping us from sitting down is Resistance.”

Follow the link for Leo's thoughts on how to overcome resistance. I particularly like #7:

7. Just start. In the end, all the tips in the world won’t make as much a difference as this simple (and timeless) instruction. Just sit down and start. Feel Resistance to doing that? There’s no way to overcome it than to just start. Reading more about Resistance won’t help. Going to an online Procrastinator’s Forum won’t help. Working on your to-do lists won’t help. Only doing actually helps. And the only way to do something is to just start.

So how do you start, when you feel resistance? You just start. Feeling the need to do something else? Stop yourself from getting distracted. Remind yourself what you need to be doing, and why. Sit down and the set time and place. And just start.

For me, that means opening up a blank text file and writing the title of whatever I’m writing. Then I start brainstorming and outlining ideas. This gets me over the initial Resistance. And once I’ve started on that, I can usually get into the flow. But the important thing is to get started.

So stop reading this. And just start!

Sounds like I better take his advice, stop blogging, and get back to my legal writing memo that's due tomorrow...

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