The Art Of The Start

Start your engine
Sometimes we have to create our own start button in our work. From pobre.ch’s Flickr photostream.

Half the battle to execution, leadership and productivity is starting. Getting the mind out of parking and into first gear can be a giant mental block at certain times when motivation is low.

Sometimes, we get stuck and don’t know why. It can become frustrating and our procrastination can fritter away hours that could have been used to create real useful assets or work.

There’s plenty of psychology I have read and is out there to explain why we have difficulty working when we should. I know the forces are there and vary at different times. Regardless, I thought I would share some ways to develop the art of the start I have used to drive my own productivity that might be helpful for you in your own work:

  • Commit to 30 minutes. I like to use time in a scarce sense. I look at my computer screen or watch and give myself 30 minutes to get a task done or worked on. I may not finish, but it becomes a game that my mind can deal with. Once the alarm goes off, I switch or give myself a break. If I haven’t finished, this is not a bad thing. Our minds have a hard time dealing with open loops. I just created an open loop and will have an easier time restarting than the drag from the initial start.
  • Write a short list. Many times, I have multiple projects and deals to work on. The format of the different lists and systems can be overwhelming. I like to immediately create a short list of five things I will get done today. This becomes a laser focused and achievable goal for my mind. Furthermore, I prioritize through this exercise and have a target to go after. The longer lists get whittled away by the small lists and the momentum builds for the next day. It helps me start right away.
  • Set an appointment. If I have a deadline for a client or am part of a chain of work with team members, I like to set an appointment with them to review work. This makes me commit to getting it done and in turn get started right away.
  • Buy a new tool. I like working with new tools and technologies. If this applies to a daunting project, it can provide extra motivation to get started. Buy the software and try it out on the work at hand. Get a new keyboard. The small investments demand that you make use of your new resources and also become a new toy to play with as you work.

Ultimately, these techniques help remove the layer of ambiguity from something large and make them smaller. It makes the art of the start easier to deal with and triggers motivation in different ways.

Could any of these help you? How do you get started?

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