​How to Make Yourself “Just Do It,” and Love It

How to Make Yourself “Just Do It,” and Love It

Years ago, Steve Pavlina–motivational speaker and blogger extrodinare–graduated from college with a 3.94 GPA after just three semesters. To accomplish this incredible feat, Pavlina averaged more than 30 credits per semester. On his blog, he reflects on what he learned during that time about productivity. The core of time management, he argues, is simple:

  1. Decide what to do
  2. Do it

That’s it. Productivity in a nutshell. But concealed within this deceptively simple philosophy lies the biggest resason why some people fritter away their time while others live their dreams: Some people avoid “doing.”

A good time management system (like our own TRO training) helps you easily decide what to do. Your task list should remind you of critical deadlines, suggest the most important tasks, help you focus by grouping similar tasks, help you quickly pick your next task, keep you informed while away from your office, and help you focus energy on the things you care about most. A good system can make you the world’s most efficient decider, but some days it’s still hard to cowboy up and be a doer.

  • Motivation. Apathy begats procrastination. The more intensely you desire the outcome and believe it is connected to doing the task, the more likely you are do to it quickly.
  • Competence. We avoid our own incompetence. The better you are at a task, the more likely you are to do it quickly.
  • Energy. You can’t drive a car without gas. When you are rested, fed, healthy, happy, and have time anything becomes possible.
  • Focus. This is your ability to transfer energy from yourself into completing your tasks. 90% focus translates into 70% productivity. Better focus = vastly better results, always.
  • Momentum. Objects at rest tend to remain at rest. Objects in motion tend to remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force.

If you know what you need to do but consistently fail to do it, examine the five attributes and ask yourself, “Where am I falling short?” Discovering “why” puts you halfway to success. In most cases you don’t need to be perfectly aligned with all five; you simply need to reduce the resistance so you can complete the task. Perhaps you are unmotivated, sick, and lack momentum, but you cannot do anything about the first two. Find the task which you are most motivated to do and get started. Once you have started, you can use the momentum to keep moving with other tasks. Sometimes this is all it takes, a reduction in resistance, to finally “do it.”

Here are 9 suggestions to help you get from deciding what to do to actually doing it:

  1. Get the time management system.Easily figuring out what to do next makes doing it much easier.
  2. Don’t switch tasks.Work on one thing for as long as it is efficient. No multitasking. No texting. No Facebook.
  3. Remove distractions.Physical distractions, such as paperwork, Post-it reminders, TV, etc. will hurt you. Look for hidden distractions, such as music, location, ambient noise, pop-up reminds or bookmarks on your computer, cell phone, etc. Remove anything that will divert your focus.
  4. Do something worthwhile.When you have to force yourself to get started, make it something worthwhile. If your time is limited, start with something worthwhile. Don’t waste willpower on things you don’t care about.
  5. Eat snacks.Arm yourself with clean, low-calorie snacks like celery, raisins, carrots, rice cakes, etc. Grazing is healthy for you and keeps your blood sugar at stable levels.
  6. Re-energize.Go for a walk, socialize around the water cooler, take a (short) nap, whatever will replenish your energy supply. To keep this from being a time waster, you might consider making it a ritual: the same activity at the same time every day.
  7. Begin with an outline.Making an outline prevents you from stalling out and eliminates uncertainty. You begin with something easy, giving you momentum. You also begin with the right end in mind, which helps your motivation, focus, and efficiency.
  8. Schedule time.Sometimes you fail to start projects because you do not have enough time to complete them. Reserve a block of time long enough to make good progress. Scheduling time ensures that you have enough of it before starting.
  9. “Just do it.”Imagine you are in a Nike commercial. 20 million people are watching. Michael Jordan is standing over you with that no-nonsense look on his face. He leans over, knowing you’re about to procrastinate again, and he says–with a look of distain–”Just do it.” Say it out loud to yourself, “Just do it. Just do it.” Then do it.

Reading time is over. Grab a piece of paper, write down three things you’ve been avoiding, and figure out exactly how you will make yourself get it done.

Or you could go check Facebook again. Your choice.