Over the past year, I have experienced a number of medical issues. These issues have consumed a great deal of my time and have left me short of energy. However, I also think that I have made things worse by allowing myself to procrastinate when I was feeling short of energy. Rather than get up and get going, I would use the shortage of energy as an excuse to make no effort at all. With the light of a New Year, I have decided that I cannot allow this habit to continue.

Yesterday, it was bitterly cold here (by Irish Standards) and I did not have any desire to get outside the house. But of the many things I have been procrastinating over the past year, pruning the trees at the front of my house is one of the most important. I had told myself the day before that I would get some of this done but when the day came, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt absolutely no motivation to take action. 

Eventually, I made an agreement with myself that I would take a handheld pruner, go to the trees, and do just 5 minutes of pruning. Then, I would at least have made some progress on the job. So, I wrapped up in a coat and gloves and, pruner in hand, I walked out to the trees to begin my work . 

Within a couple of minutes, I was becoming more engaged with the work and more motivated to get some serious work done. In the end, I got a good hour of work done before my hands gave into the cold ( I need better gloves) and I tidied up and went back inside. The job is not finished but I feel really good about the progress made and will finish things off at the weekend. 

The true source of motivation

Perhaps the biggest myth we have been taught about productivity and procrastination is that you need to be motivated to take action, as if motivation comes first. But that is not true. There will be some occasions where you experience the motivation first but in the vast majority of cases, you will need the discipline to take action and then, the motivation will follow. 

Another key point that I took from yesterday was that when you take the action you need to take, you often get added little bonuses. While out at the trees, Sophie, my nephew’s partner, and their dog Teo (officially my favourite relative) were walking past. So, I got to have a chat with Sophie and a little play time with Teo.  I would have missed out on this had I not forced myself to take some action.

Recommendation

Next time you are struggling to get something started, identify a small first step you can take to get the ball rolling. Just focus on that first step. If you only get that done, you have done the hardest part by making the start. But most of the time, you will find yourself becoming more motivated to push further ahead with the job. Don’t wait for motivation, create it!

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