” We don’t tell ourselves, ‘I’m never going to write my symphony.’ Instead we say, ‘I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.’” — The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
You told yourself all week that you would have time this weekend to work on that project. Now it’s Saturday morning, you actually have the time to work, but instead you watch Netflix in bed and hate yourself for wasting four hours. Now it’s 1 in the afternoon and you’re not sure if you should take a nap or eat lunch. The solution is momentum. Here are some ways to jump-start your creative work and keep your momentum building:
1. Write Down What’s In Your Head — When you have a few things you want to do, but don’t know where to start, grab a piece of scrap paper or a note card (always have these within arms reach) and write down what you want to do. Accept that you will not complete most or possibly any of these things today. Next, ask yourself, “what’s the most uncomfortable project? What’s the hardest? What are you convinced you won’t be able to do?”
2. Set a timer for 10 minutes — and start working on the uncomfortable project. Too long? Try five minutes. Once you start, you’ll figure the initial roadblocks and by the time the timer ends you’ll probably want to keep working.
3. Block Junk Food Websites — If your work involves anything online, accept that you’re vulnerable to distraction and indulgence and block the junk food sites. You know what I’m talking about. Remove the same sites from the bookmarks bar and use one of these plugins to block them: Chrome- Website Blocker, Safari — Mindful Browsing.
4. Turn Your Phone Off (Silent or Do Not Disturb Don’t Count) — When your phone and internet and Vine videos are seconds away, it’s too easy to get distracted. When you’re phone is off, you can’t rationalize turning it back on to check it for two seconds only to turn it back off again.
5. There Is No Perfect Time To Work — Start working for 10 minutes and see what happens. ”I’m not in the zone” “I need coffee” “I’m expecting a call and I don’t want to get in the zone and be interrupted.” “I need to exercise soon and don’t want to start.” Rationalizations like these are nasty and really hard for everyone to beat. Accept that they will never disappear and that you can only muscle through as they arise. If you need coffee, get some coffee and get to work.
6. Celebrate Victories — Finish the 10 minutes? Nice job, you’re gaining momentum. 10 minutes is better than doing nothing, and it’s way better than most people. 10 minutes a day will be felt after a year.
Approach these hard projects with a “death by a thousand cuts” mentality. There is no epiphany where it all makes sense. It’s about putting little pieces of work together to build toward accomplishment. The hard part is getting started. Sit down and see what you’re capable of.