The Now Habit

  1. It will come to me: Positive expectancy alerts your subconcious mind to bring you a surprise. Notice how quickly you "get into" a task that you have been avoiding for weeks. It can take less than ten seconds to go from not knowing once you show and tell yourself (and your brain), "It is safe to sit still, do a little thinking, and problem solving. Something will come to me; it's only a few breaths away."
  2. Take one small step: Replace "This project is overwhelming" with "I can take one small step." Many of your top-priority projects will take days, weeks, or months to complete. You can not complete them all at once, in one sitting, without feeling overwhelmed, panicked, and resistant. You might also lack confidence that you can complete a project that may take more than 4 or 40 or 400 hours to complete. Just focus on the first step of fifteen or thirty minutes with the understanding that you will know more about what to do and how to take the next step.
  3. Freedom to choose: It is not discipline, willpower, or pressure from others that facilitate adherence to a challenging course of action. Rather, it is the freedom to choose among alternatives, the personal commitment to a mission, and the willingness to take responsibility for the consequences of our decisions that steels the will and emboldens the spirit.
  4. Perform like a champion: In order to maximize your performance in a stressful world with multiple distractions, you must think like a champion athlete. Regardless of the score or your level of confidence, you are showing up to see what happens, focused on this moment -- the only moment there is to increase your chances of success. You know you can do your best work when you are focused on what you can do now, and your worth is safe with you.
  5. Separate your worth from your work: When you make your work determine your worth, you naturally are reluctant yo face challenges and take risks in which your worth could be judged. When you procrastinate, you are saying, "This work isn't my real worth. I did it in a rust at the last minute. You cannot use it to judge the real me." Make your worth as a person safe and separate from your work, and you can turn in projects sooner for constructive feedback that helps improve your work.
  6. The cost of procrastination: One of the most devastating consequences of procrastination is that it leads to putting off living fully. Its insidious cycle robs you of experiencing a sense of accomplishment for your work and the full enjoyment of guilt-free play.
  7. Only focus on starting: Don't worry about finishing or getting it all done. Your job is to get started. The last time you start is when you will have finished. Yor mind and body can only start in the present; they can't jump into the imaginary future where projects are "done," "accomplished," or "finished."
  8. Make work less painful: Procrastination reduces tension by taking away something we view as painful or threatening. The more you make your work painful, the more you will seek relief through avoidance or through involvement in more pleasurable activities. Reduce self-criticism, self-threats, and endless to-do lists with no time for fun, and your work will become less painful. Make your work time like entering a peaceful sanctuary instead of a prison cell of solitary confinement with a critic.
  9. Two level of energy: Any large project -- especially one that requires months of work -- will evoke a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Use a blueprint, an outline, or an overview to help you see your project spread out over time and distance. Then choose which part to start working on with quiet, focused energy until you must once again check with yout blueprint to make sure you are on track. The take away: when working on large projects, anticipate moving up and down between high, near-panic levels of energy at first and then down to quiet energy focused on the details.
  10. The "Pull Method": The "push method" of management assumes that humans are basically lazy and that pressuring and scaring the hell out of them wil create motivation. The "pull method," on the other hand, assumes that we are naturally inquisitive, and if we are properly rewarded for our efforts we can persevere with even the most difficult tasks.