I’ve suddenly realised that the hardest part of any act is rarely the act itself. It’s the five minutes leading up to it.

The ‘act’ can be anything you hesitate before doing. The cold call. The business plan. The bike ride. The dishes.

In the normal course of hesitation, you start by trying to talk yourself into the task. This typically involves a fair amount of self-admonishment:

“I must try and score another client.”
“I must get my plan in better shape”
“I must get my butt in better shape”
“I must tidy up after myself.”

This is followed by another voice that urges you to stay put:

“They’re probably too busy to talk.”
“I’ll update it next week.”
“What if it rains while I’m out?”
“I’ll have a cup of tea and clear my email first.”

Rinse and repeat until you do it, or avoid it and live with the lingering guilt.

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

I’ve realised that the longer this inner dialogue goes on, the harder the act becomes. By the time I’m on the phone, got my head down, am on my bike or at the sink, I can clearly see how debating the act is far harder than the act itself.

As a result, I’ve made a big effort to nip the mental chatter in the bud and just get on with the task ahead. Or not! Either way, I’ve recognised that the dialogue doesn’t help, it just eats into your time.

Talking of eating into time, how many of you have rubbed shoulders with Twitter? Seriously, if I get any more into it, I’ll have no clients, no plan, a gigantic butt and cockroaches. As it is, I often have to physically remove myself to an offline environment to get any solid work done.

So the mental chatter has quietened, but the issue of handling distractions looms large. But that’s another story. 

Finally I must share that this piece was written to avoid getting started on four 2,500 word writing projects! Oh the irony.

Share your procrastination tips. Beats doing any real work, doesn’t it?

“ I’ve made a big effort to nip the mental chatter in the bud and just get on with the task ahead. ”
 
Sam Leader

Sam Leader is a director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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