get started on any task by asking this simple question

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Procrastination!  The dreaded word.  Most of us complain about it, we make it our excuse and label ourselves “a procrastinator”, as though that let’s us off the hook or makes it easier to fight.  The problem is, we still aren’t getting the important stuff done.  More importantly, we aren’t doing  the stuff we really want to do.

So, without going into a long-winded chat about why we procrastinate (that’ll be for another time), here’s a question to help you get back to basics and start moving…

At a recent meeting  we were discussing how to implement a new networking service.  We spent a good two hours discussing approaches and problems, solutions and alternatives, examples and hypotheticals, ‘what if’s…’ and ‘how abouts…’

“My brain is switching off,” Sam said eventually. 

“What’s the most basic thing we need to get this started?”

Just like that, Sam sliced through the layers of waffle.  Whilst we had far more clarity about what we wanted to create, our discussion had also added layers upon layers of stuff; in our attempt be perfect, we had created a web of unnecessary thought that encased us, offering us more problems than solutions, more questions than answers.

A coach I used to work with used the analogy of a coat rack.  The coat rack represents the basic concept in its simplest form.  Every overanalysed thought adds a coat to the rack until we reach a point where there are so many coats we no longer remember or recognise the original thought!  We lose sight of the vision and decision making becomes harder.  

Sam’s question allowed us to shed these layers, bringing us back to basics and take action on our vision.


Top tips:


#1 “What if the most basic thing is too hard?”

Then it isn’t the most basic thing.

The most basic thing to get started requires the least amount of energy, time and money.  If it feels too hard, takes too much time or is too expensive, take a step back and ask,

“Is this the most basic thing needed to get started?”  

If your answer is no, then ask, “What’s more basic than this?”


#2  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break

If you’ve been thinking about the topic for some time and the coat-rack is now piled high with coats, take a break.  When you return to the topic, reconnect with the basic outcome you are working towards.  Before your brain kicks in with “yes, buts”, “what ifs” and “what abouts…”, answer the question: “What’s the most basic thing we need to get this started?”


#3  Commit to the answer and do it immediately!

The most basic thing to get started takes the least amount of energy, time and money.  Therefore, if you do the most basic thing and then change your mind – that’s ok!  You can change, modify, postpone and even delete your ideas as you update your mind!  


And remember…

The brain loves achievement and accomplishment.  Just the act of getting started and completing one small action towards your aim will make it more likely for you to find the next most basic thing that needs to happen.  Without even realising it, you’ll be on your way!

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