It’s not just tough to get moving when you’re first beginning with Discardia; it can be difficult to get yourself in motion any day of the year, no matter who you are. Sometimes ya just don’t wanna. So how do you fight this resistance to your life becoming more awesome? Well, remembering that that’s what you’re working on helps, but even when we know we’ll be happy about the outcome it can be hard to start. The solution to this is to run The Lap.
Any progress is better than no progress, so rather than say “I’ll do it later,” make a deal with yourself to do just a little now.
One of my favorite forms of The Lap is powered by something I love doing: hearing my favorite music. Listening to an album straight through doesn’t take all that long, particularly when you’re doing something else, and good tunes can be a great motivator. Combine these two pieces of information and you’re ready to go for the record.
Sometimes a whole album’s worth of plugging away takes more time or energy than you can muster. That’s when the short lap is your best bet. Set a digital timer or put on some music and go for four or five songs. Don’t say “Later,” say “Okay, just … minutes now and then I can stop.” You’ll be amazed at what a difference fifteen or twenty minutes focused progress can make against even the worst chore.
This approach can also train you to better define your tasks so that the very first step to take is obvious and the project doesn’t repulse you as much. When you find something lingering on your to-do list for a long time, it’s a good sign that you need to do just fifteen minutes to break through that block or better define the project.
Laps like this work well in combination with a reward. Maybe you get home and want to take the rest of the night off, but before you do, devote just fifteen minutes to a happier home. Try setting your sights on the kitchen. Ready? Find ten things that you don't want in your kitchen anymore. You get more bonus points the bigger they are. Kick them out to the trash, charity, or wherever they belong. Gone. Done. Better. That was pretty quick wasn’t it? Trust in a quick burst when time, energy, or enthusiasm feels like it’s in short supply. There are certain chores that get put off because they seem too big to get done in a little bite of your day. It's easy to view “clean the kitchen,” for example, as a monumental roadblock, but you don't have to do everything in one go and even twenty to thirty minutes can make a big difference.
Next time you're feeling daunted say “Okay, short burst,” put on some good music or a podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to or set the timer and make a little progress. You'll be amazed at your ability to carve a few bursts out of your day when you'd never believe you had a spare hour to spend making things nicer. Go ahead and laugh when your stubborn “don’t wanna” mood sometimes evaporates and you find yourself working cheerfully on long after that timer goes off. Getting started is truly the toughest bit.
(An historical note for long-time readers: In the past, I referred to these short bursts as "sprints," but now that I've learned more about the use of that term and "timebox" in agile development – and am adapting it to personal purposes in the form of agile self development – I've decided to switch to "laps" as a better representation of a short chunk of effort put in against a current set of goals).