You snooze, you lose

One way to get shit done

When you snooze you tend to lose. This post is not about procrastination or how to keep motivated. At least not directly. It is about finding a way to do what you want or need to be done.

There is a tendency to rely too much on feeling motivated in order to actually act. Feeling motivated won’t get the shit done! Only action gets it done.

Yes, true, motivation is the reason for people’s actions and desires. Theories that try to explain Motivation.

It’s great to feel motivated. However, sometimes after 5 seconds or a few days, motivation easily disappears. Not to mention situations when the shit hits the fan. Where is the motivation in these moments?

It is still there. It points you towards staying in your warm bed, hiding or running away by watching Netflix and etc.. We’ve all been there, justifying our actions as “I need a bit of entertainment time” or “I need to relax”.

If something needs to be done there is only one way to do it. Just act on it.

How to do it without relying too much on feeling motivated? Here is what I found works and doesn’t work for me. Hopefully you can make use of it, too.

“The 5 second rule” experiment

Recently, I made time to read The 5 Second Rule book. It is an interesting short book that touches on very interesting principle. The author speaks of a Rule where you count backwards from 5 to 1 and you “Just do it”.

The main argument of why this is working is that reverse counting from 5 to 1 does not give your brain time to focus on another thing. This way you can act on your motivation impulse.

Brilliant! Right? So simple and so ineffective in my case.

Why it was ineffective? I tried it many times with the waking up exercise the author suggested. Here how it goes:

Goal: Get up at 6am and go to the gym.
Note to self before falling asleep: Remember the 5 second rule.

- Alarm rings! Outside is still dark.
Me: Waking up stressed by the loud noise. 5–4–3…
- 1h later
Me: Waking up on my own. Fuck… I overslept!

The funny thing is, before I tried this experiment, I was actually having a higher success rate with getting up and going to the gym. In fact,4 times out of 7. That's huge success for me.

I wanted to try the 5 second rule and see if it can increase it to more than 4 and make it easier. Such a shame it didn’t work.

Yet, reading the book helped me realize I was doing something very similar on my own.

I was practicing the underlying principle of getting shit done.

Focus your mind on the now

Here is what has been working for me in the past months and has helped me start doing stuff I want to do.

Waking up early and going to the gym was the first thing I started doing. Then I used the same principle to start reading books and practicing new skills daily.

If you’re similar to me, the moment you give yourself time to think before you act, the more excuses you can find not to do it. Especially when it is something that will take effort and patience. I have to admit I enjoy instant gratification. This makes it challenging to enjoy stuff that takes time to get the results.

Giving myself the time to count 5–4–3–2–1, provides me with more time to think about excuses. I discovered that I have achieved mastery at doing that.

It is not very efficient using mental energy on counting and trying to battle your own deceptive mind. I found something that works better for me.

Focus on the trigger. The essence of what you want to do. Start doing it!

It is that simple as the famous slogan “Just do it”.

Example of how it works for me.

Goal: Get up at 6am and go to the gym.
Preparation: Pack my backpack to be ready.

- Alarm rings! Outside is still dark.
Me: Waking up stressed by the loud noise. Push my body up and get to bathroom.
-Think what is the next step to get my ass out of the house.
Me: Put cloths and shoes, get backpack. Go out.
- Think of next step and do it.

Focusing on what needs to be done and doing it. That is the key to getting shit done!

Do not give your mind time to think of alternatives or brilliant plans especially when it’s time to act.

Plan the previous evening in bed. Put the mark on your target. Act today!
Be in the moment and move to your target.

What if it doesn’t work?

As I mentioned, my success rate using this principle is not 100 percent. However, I can definitely feel it is going up the more I practice it.

When I feel I can’t get shit done, I remind myself of the principle by focusing on small daily habits.

Things like washing my teeth, grabbing food to eat, going to the toilet and getting "the job done" done. It is the same principle. Feeling the need (motivation) and acting on it.

Failing is part of life, accept it. Learn from the foundations that are already present in your daily life. The principles behind them can scale up and help us achieve more.

Final thoughts

I hope reading all these words were worth your time. Regardless, I would love to hear your opinion on how you get things done. Always willing to improve and learn more, so please do share your thoughts.

Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.

Sharing what I study & practice. Pragmatic tips about designing, health and self-development with the hope it might help someone else.

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