Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you’re willing to die having left undone.” There is so much truth in this little nugget of wisdom: so often we never actually finish those loose ends we claim we’ll come back for later! Like many creatives, you are probably no stranger to waiting until the 11th hour to finish a pressing task, especially if it isn’t something you enjoy doing. Luckily, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to help you reclaim your focus on those daunting tasks, reset your mind frame, and learn to prioritize productivity over perfectionism.
Every open project or “note to self” saved for later creates an open loop in our minds. Every one of those open loops, every incompletion on our plate, is a potential place for distraction. It is so important to take those open loops and write them down physically to get them out of living in your head. So, pull out a piece of paper and something to write with and divide your paper into four parts of your life: business, home, health, and relationships.
I know you are probably saying that list would be miles long and seemingly impossible to get through! But if you don’t make that incomplete list first, you are simply keeping the open loops in your head, continually creating distractions for your current and future projects. Release that chaos out of your head and into the world!
The Power of Five
Once you’ve gotten past the part of acknowledging your incompletions, the next hardest part is staying consistent, efficient, and habitually in your progress toward productivity. Enter this phase with a beginner’s open mind.
First, you want to focus on the first five seconds of a task. Every time you know you need to start something that you’re not looking forward to, countdown from five. As you start counting, begin the process of working on the task, and by the time you hit one, you have to have done something to overcome your initial hesitation. The Five Second rule is all about inertia. It helps you to be consistent with your follow-through by making yourself more purposeful and aware of beginning the process.
After that the Five Minute rule comes into play. Once you’ve overcome the lurch and moved to start the process, stick with your work on the task for at least five minutes. Time yourself! By the time you’ve done a task for five minutes, it becomes that more likely that you’ll continue with it rather than quit. Sometimes it’s all about outwitting our own brains and finding work arounds rather than getting hung up on the fear of failure or overwhelm. It is always better to move forward making progress with some mistakes than to allow perfectionism to stall yourself completely.
When you’re ready to take your design practice to the next level, explore your expert coaching and training options with Melissa Galt. To catch the entire podcast episode LISTEN HERE.