Lifehacker tip #11 – Just start

Hands up all you procrastinators. Come on, I know there are a lot of you in the room. Yes, I have my hand up too.

If you are anything like me you are forever putting off things that you don’t really want to do, or things you know can wait a while. And what are the results of putting things off? Usually either guilt or pressure.

  • Guilt because you didn’t get out of bed this morning and go for that run.
  • Pressure because you left your assignment to the last second and now it is due tomorrow.
  • Guilt because little Sally doesn’t have a clean school shirt today.
  • Pressure because you’ve had those passport applications sitting on your desk for months and oops, now you’re supposed to be getting on a plane next week.

I am one of those people who generally can’t do anything unless there is a bit of pressure involved but this clearly does not facilitate a life less frantic. So in the last six months or so I have continually invoked a lesson taught to me by my triathlon coach.

Back in my triathlon days I hated training. This posed a bit of a problem for me as triathlon involved training at least ten times a week. It wasn’t hard to talk myself out of a session: Is that a tickle in my throat? Am I feeling perhaps a little too tired to train? A little too sore? Did I have a good race on the weekend thus negating any need to train at all?

Enter my coach. His words: Just start.

Not sure if I was too sore or too tired to train? Just start the session Kelly. Lying in bed on a cold winter’s morning contemplating a 5.30am swim session? Just get up.

Naturally once I took the first step of just starting the session, or just getting out of bed, then of course I kept going and finished whatever needed to be done. So it would appear that the actual doing of something is not the real barrier here, it is the starting.

So if you are looking balefully at a sink full of dishes – just go wash the first dish.

Can’t face the pile of clothes waiting in the laundry for you? Just fold the first shirt.

Don’t really feel like going for a run? Just put on your gear and take that first step.

I have used this method to great success in recent months for all my easy to put off jobs and I can guarantee every little bit adds up to a life that is a little less pressured :)

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  1. Karen says

    Hand up! If I knew this tip I would be already working at my desk instead of browsing the internet….. anyway must go and START working!
    Thanks for all the great tips. :-)

  2. says

    Totally agree Kel and I ALWAYS use this technique with myself when I really can’t be bothered exercising. I just tell myself that I just have to go out for a 30min walk, which can be done as slowly as I like.
    Then before I know it I am running at a very uncomfortable pace trying to beat my PB.
    You would think I would have caught onto myself by now but it works every time!

    • says

      My pleasure lovely Lisa :) I have actually been procrastinating ALL DAY today and have had to use this one over and over again to get things done. Oh the irony!

  3. TrevS says

    My hands up.
    I have a small pile of important things to do yet with no disernible deadline.
    The inevitable being the old “put off today what I can do tommorrow” gets put into use a little to often.
    Training instances not so much though, the pupose gets changed to a “JRA” (Just Ride Along), No set session or any particular purpose other than enjoy a general ride be it morning, day or evening.
    In fact an evening JRA is really very pleasant.

    • says

      I love that JRA idea Trev. Although I find my biggest problem is not the thought of how hard the session might be … rather it is that I just don’t want to do it!