Do you find hard to motivate yourself at the start of your day? Ever want to start the day awesomely productive, but starting that first task seems daunting…so you procrastinate? Of course – we all have that problem at one point or another.
Well, you’re in luck, because you can start your day encouraged and motivated.
And the good news is it doesn’t involve any sort of wishy-washy new-age pap. It amounts to a pure practical principle preached positively (say that three times fast).
Step 1: Stop While You’re Ahead
A simple, effective way to starting your day encouraged and motivated is to leave your last task unfinished so you can quickly finish it the following day.
This way, you’ll get encouraged and motivated first thing in the morning – by keeping the momentum from the previous day’s creative fire going.
You won’t have to think about what you need to do, or see a daunting task of starting something in front of you. You’ll have a in-progress task ready to dive in and finish. And that–finishing an important task first thing in the morning, that you don’t even need to think about what to do–will encourage and motivate you for the rest of the day.
Step 2: Write Out Tomorrow’s Steps Today
In order to make this method of working more effective, write out tomorrow’s steps while you’re still hot today.
Bottom line: Write out how you’ll finish that task with specific steps the night before.
Be as specific as possible. Don’t leave any ambiguity, or you’ll also fall into start-paralysis, since you won’t want to figure out what needs to be done in the morning.
If you don’t specifically write out the steps, that’s still not as bad as starting a completely new task. But it’s still not as effective as writing out the steps, because you can’t just dive in and start executing without thinking.
When you’re still on a roll in your creative zone the night before, use your thinking to write out as specific steps as possible.
The following morning, when you’re not in that creative zone anymore, you don’t need to think – you just do by following your steps.
Step 3: Finish the Near-Complete Task Tomorrow Morning
When you get to work the following morning (or afternoon for you night owls), finish the near-complete task first thing.
All you have to do is execute the specific steps to finish the task that you wrote out in step #2 above. No need to think about what to do and how – just do your list of steps.
Before you know it, you’ll get an important task finished, without having to be daunted by starting a new task or thinking about how to finish the task (which is when you start procrastinating and watch YouTube clips until lunchtime).
Finishing an important task so early in your day will encourage and motivate you. The creative juices and productive mindset will kick back into gear, and you’ll be ready to rock the rest of your day. That new task will be much easier to start, and bigger tasks will be easier to tackle.
Wait, Shouldn’t I Finish What I Started That Day?
Yep, this goes against the common practice of trying to finish everything off before the end of the day – trying to package everything up, with a nice bow on top.
But when you finish off a task for the day, you’ll have to start from scratch on a new one the following morning. And that’ll create start-paralysis – not knowing how or where to start, and then procrastinating because the prospect of starting something new seems like a huge step.
By stopping while you’re ahead, you’ll avoid start-paralysis the next day, because you already have an in-progress task to dive into, or just one final small step to finish off.
You’ll quickly get it done (and thus one important task for the day), which will encourage you to keep going and being awesomely productive.
Quickly finishing off a task, getting encouraged and motivated, and then rocking the rest of your day with new tasks and whatnot – much, much more effective than trying to start your day finding and getting into your encouraging and motivating groove.
Need Proof? Hemingway Worked This Way
If this method of productivity might seem familiar, that’s because sometimes it’s related to Hemingway’s hack.
Writer Ernest Hemingway would work similar to this way – stopped right before he finished and left it for the following day (or left a scene unfinished to later incorporate into the story). Hemingway was quoted as saying about working:
The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day…you will never be stuck.
Start Your Day Encouraged and Motivated
Destroy start-paralysis. Avoid unnecessary procrastination. Be awesomely productive. Start your day encouraged and motivated by leaving your last task unfinished so you can quickly finish it the following day.
Write out the specific steps needed to finish that task the night before, then get to it at the start of your day. By quickly finishing an important task, you’ll keep the momentum from the previous day going, and you’ll be encouraged and motivated to rock the rest of your day.
Now get out there and start stopping — while you’re ahead.
(Image courtesy of Vince Alongi under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution generic license.)
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