Today I would like to try something slightly different that may become one of your favorite productivity and anti-procrastination hacks inspired by the Kaizen approach.
I call it a two-minute rule. The idea is to infuse your day with tiny, action-packed ‘bullets’ of time. It’s a short, sweet (or at least not painful), and powerful way to practice bias towards action.
Sometimes we just feel stuck or overwhelmed, and everything seems like too much work. Sounds familiar? Another problem is that we “just don’t feel like it” or have huge expectations towards our goal, AKA perfectionism.
My take on things? Just start and do something for two minutes. It can be anything you tend to procrastinate about that you can start working on. Sometimes, before we get going, we need to re-define what possible means and give it a go.
START WHERE YOU ARE.
Start where you are. Acknowledge your feelings and learn to move past them.
I call it my ‚stoic approach’ – one day, and you will be enthusiastic, another – not at all. Knowing you can still work on things even when you don’t feel like it is a superpower.
Like today, I have zero motivation to write. The day feels slightly off. I am far from feeling inspired. And yet, guess what I’ve been doing for the past 10 minutes?
You might have guessed it – I’ve been writing!
So this proves a couple of things:
- you do not have to feel like doing something to start doing it
- you may start feeling like it once you’ve started
We all have to start somewhere, and one of the best places to start is to exactly where you are with what you have.
IGNORE THE CRITICAL SELF-TALK
My son, who is 6, grabs a pen, scribbles something on the spot, comes up to me and in and says: look! I’ve drawn a lovely picture! I did an excellent job drawing the skeleton’s bones.
Or he would hear some music, start dancing and then say: I think I danced like someone who really knows how to dance well!
And it’s not like we praise him for whatever he does all the time, nor are his attempts perfect. But this his just his inner talk, and I love it. He knows how to be his best cheerleader!
Imagine having this little voice cheering you at all times instead of pointing all your weaknesses and mistakes. It’s not always easy, I know. We are often full of doubts, and many believe that inner critic is there to help us steer towards excellence. Well, maybe, sometimes. But if the voice stops you from taking action, it’s useless. Ignore it long enough, and it’ll leave you alone.
WE ACT ON OUR BELIEFS NOT OUR WANTS
The most important thing to remember is that we do not do what we want to do, but what we believe in.
So if you don’t believe it is even possible to meet your expectations, what would be the point of even starting? That sounds like a colossal waste of resources, and we want to remain sentient beings that act in alignment with our knowledge.
One way would be to convince yourself that it is possible to achieve what you’ve been hoping for, thus changing your beliefs. Another would be to radically lower your expectations and therefore get into alignment with what you believe in ( that you really do not think you can produce anything of great value at this very moment).
You removed the block, now onto the work itself.
SET YOUR INTENTIONS & YOUR TIMER AND…JUST START
The way I go about it is simply to start typing anything. Just move my fingers on the keyboard, typing whatever crappy sentences on a particular subject are coming up in my brain.
The problem is that we don’t know how to start, and we get stuck on that.
Sometimes a good start is crucial; very often, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you do. You can start from the end or in the middle.
And then you can also change that. Most likely, you will. But you have to give yourself a chance and just start.
I think we would all benefit from seeing someone is working progress more often and not just admire the finished product the mass media is feeding us.
The greatest minds often fail, sketch their ideas, change everything, and don’t think of it as a failure.
Because it is not a failure, it’s a process.
So let’s go back to my little pet project of just starting that I have paired with the two-minute rule.
Start infusing your day and reality with what I call a “power bullet” -a super short action-packed time.
MAKE IT SUPER EASY (REMOVING FRICTION)
Pick something you usually procrastinate on starting or feel overwhelmed by.
I wanted to start moving more and get back in shape. Unfortunately, no amount of thinking about strengthening my muscles worked, so I decided to start exercising the Kaizen way – for two minutes. I certainly don’t feel like exercising every day, but hey, two minutes? Even I can do it. Remember to make it as easy as possible. For me, that means I can do whatever: yoga, weightlifting, going for a run, or use a resistance band. Make it easy; make it accessible, remove any friction you can think of.
Make sure you remove every obstacle from your way. Pick something that does not require you to change clothes or any special equipment. Pick something you can do just about anywhere. Think squats walking lunges whatever. It proved to be so easy I started doing it every day. A tiny habit was born.
That is totally fine, just remember, even if you do a 4 hour high HIIT workout or write 200 pages of your novel, the next day is a new beginning and you still have to do your two minutes.
SET THE BAR LOW FOR YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Another important thing is to lower your expectations so that the resistance you will most likely experience very, very soon, does not overwhelm you.
There are days in life when even the measly two minutes feel like a lot.
So think about something now and pick an activity. Get a timer and just start. It may be a two-minute power declutter, a two-minute abs exercise, to midnight HIIT workout.
Or, like I did today, just start writing something you’ve wanted to write for 10 minutes. My two minutes quickly turn into 2×15 minutes, and I’m going strong! What I have written is far from perfect, but that is not the point. It’s a sketch, it’s a draft, it has already given me ideas about another article to write and I will set my timer tomorrow again, for the measly two minutes, just to see where it takes me. Another bonus of time in yourself is, and I mean it: use a timer!
The time pressure curbs perfectionism. Think cleaning your house when you have an entire day to finish it, and cleaning it when your guests are just calling that they happened to be in the area and would like to stop by.