The "Starter" Technique

Bypassing Procrastination


Last night I was on the couch trying to relax on a Sunday night, but thoughts of some work I needed to get done kept intruding in my mental space. I could put it off until Monday, but I knew that if I did that, my whole day would be thrown off and probably my whole week. It wasn't hard work at all, but tedious and I just wasn't in the mood. Happens all the time doesn't it?

The longer I sat and tried to ignore it, the louder the "just do it" voice intruded. Conversely, my resistance was amassing its mighty forces along my emotional battle lines, and was making headway.


It occurred to me to use the simple technique I have used many times to make a little path around that big mountain of resistance. That technique, which I call "starter," is to just make a start. Do some tiny part of the task.

The task in this case was to update my Quickbooks, which meant finding all kinds of back up for deposits that had been made and entering them into the books, as well as pulling up bank accounts and entering in expenditures. I decided to just input a couple of deposits that I had listed on a page in my iPad. Wouldn't take long at all. Probably all of 15 minutes. That seemed like a good idea, and I convinced myself that I'd still have the rest of the night, and I would feel better that I had at least started.

It worked! I put in two deposits. I felt so much better that I decided to put in two more. Now I was in the swing of it and sort of enjoying the work and sense of accomplishment and decided to go ahead and log in some of the expenses. So you know the rest of the story, right? I did the whole thing, and it was painless.

How It Works

Here's the lesson: When you have something to do and a mountain of resistance to doing it, just start some part of it. Don't review in your mind over and over how big the whole task is, and don't hold yourself to doing it all at once. A small start usually leads to doing more than you planned, but even if it doesn't, you will get something done and you will be more likely to do another part sooner than later. Even doing little bits at a time will lead to finishing a big project.

When you make a start, however small, you shift your internal energy from resistance to flow. Once the energy is moving in a "go" direction, it's easier to continue, even if the continuation is on another day. The alternative is to never start and have it hanging over your head. That locks you into a "red light" position that takes root. Using "starter", you can shift this energy and get things done.

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