Do you have trouble getting started?
Whether it’s writing a report, scoping a big IT project, or simply welling up the energy to clean out your closet, many of us procrastinate because we’re simply not in the mood to start.
As a writer, I’m well acquainted with the perils of procrastination. I try to convince myself that surfing the web is getting me into the right state of mind. But, let’s be honest, those cute cat videos are not bumping my analytical skills or my word count. A writer friend confesses, “My house gets really clean whenever I’m writing a book.”
Getting started is increasingly challenging in our quick switch world where interruptions and distractions divert our focus and endless online information constantly calls our name.
But when you switch from one thing to the next with no transition time in between, your mind and body rebel. How many times have you been five minutes into a meeting before you actually settled in to consider the topic?
So how do you stay focused on what really matters?
The key is being proactive about managing your own state, the physical and mental way you show up for what matters most.
When I work with executive coaching clients, I ask them to identify their high stakes interactions and tasks. These are the regularly recurring events that are critical for success. It may be team meetings, coaching situations, writing reports, or greeting your family at the end of the day. There should be no more than 5-7.
Then identify tools to get into the right state for each task. For team meetings it might be 2 minutes reviewing strategic priorities, writing reports might need a great playlist to get fingers tapping on the keyboard, for family time it might be 10 seconds in the car to breathe and let the day go before entering the door. It’s whatever it takes to get the person in the right headspace FAST.
I created this methodology when I realized I was not always bringing my best self to my own highest priority moments. I was scheduling my days too tightly. I was hopping on calls unprepared, and as a result it often took several minutes for me to get focused and fully engaged. I wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t compelling either.
I identified my own critical job performance areas, and created 2-minute tools to get myself into the right state of mind quickly. They included:
Proposal writing – I look at client website for emotive words, stand, stretch, play disco music, and write the headers first.
Coaching phone calls – I pull up a photo of the client, scan the notes from the last call, and ask myself, what’s possible for this person?
Family time – I dance to Let it Go from Frozen, cast off the day, and start with a smile and a heartfelt question.
I’m a creature of habit. If I want to change habits, I need prompting and tools. So I create a set of small cards on a circular ring. Each card has a critical moment on the front and the tools on the back.
I look at the cards every single day. It’s made a huge difference in my ability to transition quickly and show up as my best self. My clients experience similar results.
Life is filled with moments. You get to choose how you show up for those moments.