There will never be a perfect moment so just get started

Have you ever put off something you know you need to do and tried justifying it by telling yourself there will soon be a better time to start? Some examples which may strike a chord are:

  • I’ll mow the lawn tomorrow if we have another dry day – it might still be a bit damp today…
  • I’ll start running tomorrow as I’m aching a little today…
  • I’ll clean the house tomorrow as I don’t have a huge amount of time today…
  • I’ll crack on with that household chore list tomorrow – I’m a little tired today after a full-on day with work…
  • I’ll fill the car up when I’m next passing the garage rather than heading out now – the warning light may have just come on but I know I won’t run out beforehand…
  • I’ll make the bed later – I need a drink and some breakfast first…
  • We’ll go on that family day trip next weekend – we just need some quiet time right now, plus my weather app suggests there’s a 20% chance of rain later…
  • And the age-old classic – I’ll start the diet on Monday…

I’m sure the vast majority of us have thought or said at least one of these at some point recently, and no doubt used many more examples in addition to these. It is such an easy option to fall back on: ‘There’ll be a better time soon – it makes sense to wait.’ Deep down, we all know that actually means ‘I really cannot be bothered today…’

The kicker is that better time rarely arrives. It’s easy to fall back into this default mode of trying to convince ourselves that it will but we know it won’t. If we’re in this habit, we’ll always conjure up some excuse, masquerading as a good reason to delay a task we know we need to complete. Whilst it is clearly a hard habit to break, quashing these thoughts and just getting started is crucial in achieving things in life, whether these tasks are significant or relatively inconsequential. To overcome this, consider the following:

  • Set yourself a time limit – it is surprising how much easier it seems to complete a task once you have allocated a time to it, rather than just letting it drift. One of my favourite quotes is ‘If you give yourself 30 days to clean your home, it will take you 30 days. If you give yourself 3 hours, it will take 3 hours. You can create a new life by creating more urgency in your current one.
  • Get started. Work at pace and plough through it rather than breaking off every 5 minutes to check your phone.
    • This is especially true if you’re working on a task which you can go back to and refine and amend, such as writing. Just hammer out that first version without worrying too much about the quality or the finesse. Just completing an initial version is half the battle.
  • If it’s a lengthy task, take a 5–10-minute break every 25-30-minutes.
  • Remind yourself of the power of 15 minutes. More to come on this in a future post but even though 15 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, it is surprising just how much can be achieved in such a short amount of time if you remove distractions and focus on the task in hand.

It’s important to note that I’m no paragon of virtue when it comes to this. I’m a work in progress but I certainly don’t have this mastered and (sadly) find myself frequently waiting for that perfect moment to start a task. For instance, with my writing, it’s very easy to procrastinate and avoid starting. When I do get going though, I tend to type at speed and throw the ideas out onto the page. It doesn’t matter if much of the content appears to be garbled nonsense when I read it back – that start point is a springboard to completion. I find it much easier to go back and refine that first draft than to overcome that hurdle of just getting started and produce something perfect the first time around. Additionally, I know that if I do put tasks off, even if just for one day, it prays on my mind a lot, and that really isn’t good for me. It’s when I start to get moody, deflated, and cheesed off at my inability to get things moving.

So, if there’s one takeaway from this post, it’s to appreciate that the best time to begin any taks is rarely later on today / tomorrow / next week / next month. The best time is almost always now…

As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and please do try to be kind to others and to yourself.

Best wishes and take care.

Mick

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