#15 Nike is right

I am, of course, referring to Nike’s slogan “just do it.” This is good advice, but somehow easier said than done. Listed below are a few things that complicate “just doing it”. I’ve included some advice (or rather, for the most part, links to other people’s advice) to tackle these challenges.

Analysis paralysis

People get caught up with weighing the pros and cons of different ways of dealing with a problem. Most of the time, figuring things out in detail to choose the optimal course of action isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s only going to cost a lot of time, without contributing to the solution.

In part 3 of day[9] daily #342 Sean Plott advocates being more resolute. Around the 8 minute mark he states that he spends very little time in this deliberation mode and that in his opinion it is better to decide to do something than it is to figure out what the best solution of two different options is. If you have a moment, go watch the entire daily, as there is more awesome stuff in there, for example his take on the benchmark he uses in all walks of life (at around 14 minutes).

Seemingly herculean tasks

Most things look daunting when viewed in their entirety. When faced with a huge challenge, it is easy to despair. Procrastination is not so much a sign of laziness, but rather avoidance of what seems to be an impossible task. The late Randy Pausch lectured on the subject of time management. Not all of his advice proved to be useful for me, for example the four quadrant to do list does not work for me – interestingly enough, he mentions in the same talk that he does not use the four quadrant to do list either. His tip to split big tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and to start with the ugliest one of those is spot on, though.

Jumping back and forth between tasks

This used to happen to me a lot – I would have so many things on my to do list that I felt I was neglecting important tasks, while working on one of the items. I switched between different things, which resulted in none of them getting properly done. It is much better to prioritise the to do list and then to tick things off one by one. In order to facilitate that, I found it useful to devote dedicated time slots to certain things, so that I can shut out all distractions and focus on one task. Case in point, we are at a certain bakery/coffee house for the Thursday writing sessions and every Saturday I’m at the library to write my novel.

To summarize

When you need to get something done, don’t spend too much time weighing the pros and cons of different options; don’t deliberate. Split up the task into smaller, easier to handle portions. Find a time and place to work on these tasks without interruptions.

See you next time,

Kai

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