Getting started can be tough.
But many of us make it worse without realizing it.
Here are 8 things some of us tell ourselves that we think might help, but often actually make things worse:
Conversations between Present You and Future You
“I’ll do it later”
An off-handed quip that defers the current thing for Future You, who may or may not be in any state to manage it.
Further, as there is no date, time, or other marker as to when to return for at least a visit, starting remains a chronic decision, something easily further kicked down the road.
“Write the report!”
Sometimes written in all caps, with a marker, on a white board, on the refrigerator.
“Write the report!” and all its iterations is a demand on Future You. Similar to “I’ll do it later”, it has no date attributed. It’s worse though, in that it cannot be marked complete until the entire report is completed.
Effectively, you tell Future You, go enslave yourself for an unknown period of time. You may as well say, “Never mind me (Present You). I’ll relax for us both.”
“I just need to start”
The word “just” often hides the emotions that relate to the work. Shoving yourself through can be injuring and really not necessary. I’ve got a post either published recently or publishing soon called “Fighting Work? Consider A Subtle Reframe” that will expand on this. Check out the blog.
“I should do that”
“Should” is a close relative of “just”.
“Should” appeals to some hidden authority, some sense of obligation that we generally haven’t considered well.
We can ask, “who is the ‘should’ referring to?”
Certainly there are times where we have obligations, but there are plenty of times we could be “shoulding” ourselves with an unnecessary club. Further, the statement is another one without a clear sense of visiting and requires enslaving oneself to something onerous for an unknown period of time.
Conversations between Future You and Past You
It may seem odd to describe a conversation without Present You involved, but it’s in how I’m formulating the relationships of the Past, Present, and Future selves. I’d like to write a post on it sometime. In the meantime…
“It’ll work itself out”
This is a way of organizing that is entirely passive. It says that you won’t have to do anything to make things go smoother.
To some extent, this is true. As you get into something, almost without thinking, you might draw useful items nearer and move distractions and clutter away. Over time, this can even create something of a nice setup.
However, it misses the support and power you could have that only comes from deliberately crossing a threshold of organization.
Here’s a (false) deadline
Deadlines only work because something is at stake. You can deliberately create such situations, making them real, for example by publicly announcing a project and your intended date or by procrastinating on something until it actually is due.
Until then, it is still false.
(And even when real, is this truly the option you’d like to choose? There are ways to get to work without a deadline, even for those with wandering minds like ADHD and creatives.)
Conversations with Past You
I don’t feel like it
Of course, the feeling itself is not wrong. Feelings exist and acknowledging them is vital to just about everything.
However, using the feeling to avoid even a moment of consideration for your Past Self is a problem. If it were someone other than your Past Self, we could even call it rude. No wonder it can often leave us feeling dejected.
“What was I thinking?!”
This is similar to “I don’t feel like it.” It basically rejects Past You and any thought they had about what needs to be done.
Of course it doesn’t help if Past You also wasn’t thinking and only said, “I’ll do it later.”
PS. I continue working hard at building a course for those with wandering minds, e.g. creatives, anxious, ADHD, and those who call themselves “neurodivergent”.
If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see covered, feel free to hit reply and let me know.
Join the Weekly Wind Down Newsletter
Get a weekly letter about getting to play and meaningful work. Start getting where you want to be with calm focus. You’ll receive free samples of:
- Creating Flow with OmniFocus
- Taking Smart Notes with DEVONthink
- Workflow Mastery
- PDF on beating deadlines with ease using the Touching the Keys Technique
8 Things We Tell Ourselves That Can Make Working Even Harder
Fighting Work? Consider A Subtle Reframe
What to Do When You Have No Ideas…
On Trying to Hide ADHD
Losing the Groove vs Missing a Beat
Information's pace of flooding our senses continues to accelerate by the minute. Opening Twitter, Reddit, or any social media can leave us horribly exhausted. With a hoped for relief from the moments of doldrum between tasks of ever-tightening pressure, we can...
Struggling through a Broken System – Misunderstanding Trust
Quick Journaling with DEVONthink
At this point, the "smart phone" has become jokingly familiar as a device in which we can become easily lost. Apps to keep us focused, to block this or the other, and Apple's "focus mode" help to keep us where we want our minds to be. For a moment, let us consider why...