Every morning, do this first.
Do One Thing in the morning that will carry your “pride of ownership” through the day.
Not for your clients, not for your family, your dog or your neighbor. For you.
It doesn’t have to be eradicating malaria, retiling the bathroom floor or filing your taxes. It might be as simple as (not that this would ever happen in my house) unpacking your suitcase from the trip you returned from 10 days ago. Hanging the framed photo that’s on the table (next to the nail that’s next to the hammer). Writing that post that you’ve been meaning to write since last week.
It’s secretly a math equation: what does it “cost” you to do that thing versus the pain and suffering it “costs” you to not do that thing?
To carry the math (or even financial) analogy further, doing the thing earns compound interest that builds throughout the day as you enjoy walking by the spot that had the suitcase and bask in the glory of the task accomplished. Whereas not doing the thing costs you (compounded!) interest as every time you walk by the spot and know that you didn’t do the thing causes grief, pain, suffering and worse, guilt. Just like credit card debt, it only gets worse as you neglect it.
The dreaded late-evening self-flogging question, “Ach! What have I accomplished today?” will be a thing of the past.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. There are 12 items you can think of off the top of your head that you need to do that You Just Don’t Do. Why don’t we do those things?
The photo (not) hanging on the wall. It might take less than one minute. A single minute. Maybe five if you get out the level or tape measure. But no. We don’t do it. We walk by it, we look at it, glance at it, we might even try to avoid eye contact with it (with a photo frame!). Maybe it will go away if I don’t look at it. “I’ll do it this weekend.” Then you don’t do it on the weekend. Then it’s the next week. One minute of time earns us unheard amounts of pleasure and reduction of a beating of hourly guilt. It’s torture. Worse, it’s self torture.
But it’s just math. Do the math. Do the thing. One Little Thing.
Bonus: one thing usually leads to another.
Abstract Calculus Extra Credit: If the math was already too overwhelming, skip this next section and get back to the One Thing.
Here’s where the math gets a little abstract or perhaps: exponential. If I do a huge thing, but I have to do it (e.g. task for a job), it doesn’t count. However, if the thing benefits someone you love at least as much as yourself (and ideally even more than yourself), then you get not only double bonus, but “to the power of three” bonus.
The beauty of it all is that the jury is you. You can’t cheat yourself. Well, you can, but you lose.