“If you want something done, give it to someone who is busy” (attribution).

Some of us have seasons of work that slow down. This can be a nicety in that we now have time to follow whims and interests. Or we can take a nap. Either is nice.

But time off can be problematic, too, in that a rhythm of work has now been disrupted. Whatever we had been doing regularly now falls out of habit. When engaging in something regularly, for example by going to a structured work environment on weekdays, we are better at handling tasks with deadlines. They are simply a part of the motions of the day. Work appears, we consider, act, delegate, and move on to the next item.

But when relaxed and away from deadlines, the negative feelings surrounding work we have to do can somehow become stronger. “I don’t wanna,” takes up a greater presence in mind. Consequently, so does the desire to procrastinate. This can be true in the small scale too. For example, it’s a lot easier for me to take out the garbage immediately after getting home from work, than it is after I’ve been watching an episode of The Office.

It certainly can be useful to consider, “Why don’t I wanna?” But asking why we don’t want to do something at length can lead to paralysis, self-defeating behaviors, self-berating talk, and even a growing identity of “I’m lazy.”

Beyond these reflections, it is often useful to perform the tiniest of actions related to the task. You don’t have to do all of it or even much of it (unless time doesn’t allow).

There is, admittedly, a degree of forcefulness, though it is the tiniest of forces. Specifically, we start the work with the smallest act we can find.  That may only be to sit down for a few minutes with the work with distractions set aside.

That tiny action can often break some of the paralytic spell. Combine this with the concept of Touching the Keys, I.e. just barely moving the work forward everyday, and eventually the work may even be done. (See also Being Productive – Module 4).

Another conceptualization of this process is the “non-zero day”. You can check out a Non-Zero Day subreddit dedicated to the concept. I found it through the second episode of the podcast, Nested Folders, which in turn was pointed out to me by Antonio (hat tip to Antonio!).