DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE GETTING STARTED? Do you schedule writing on your calendar, but when it’s time to write suddenly discover you have too many other commitments or priorities? Or maybe you think you should sit down to write because you promised yourself you would, and you think about it — a lot — but you just don’t?
If one of your goals this year was to write on a regular basis, or write a specific number of words each day, your challenge has been to insert that writing time into an already full schedule. No doubt, this has been a struggle. Am I right?
Here is what I have discovered: The problem is not starting — it’s STOPPING.
The reason you don’t sit down to write is not because you can’t get started; it’s because you have difficulty stopping whatever it is you’re doing and changing tasks.The problem is not starting — it’s STOPPING. Click To Tweet
Productivity, whether you want to write or accomplish any other task, is about time management, plain and simple. And if you have difficulty stopping one task in order to do another, then that second task won’t get done.
In order to be truly productive, you must develop the discipline of stopping.
I realize this may seem counterintuitive, so I suggest that over the next few days you observe your behavior in relationship to your writing goals. Just observe, without judgment.
Whenever it’s time to write according to your schedule, do you feel some inner resistance? Pay attention to that resistance and its source. Are you focused on another task and feel a need to complete it before switching? Now, notice that whatever you are doing at the time — whether it’s important or mundane — becomes suddenly more attractive. You don’t want to stop and change gears.
This is the moment where discipline is needed.
Practicing the Stop
If you have trouble sitting down to write when scheduled, give yourself permission NOT to write for one week and, instead, do the following:
- Set a reminder or alarm on your phone or calendar for 3 times each day. One of those reminders should be set for the same time you have scheduled to write.
- When the reminder pops up, immediately stop whatever you are doing.
- Get up and move to a different space. Go get a glass of water, walk to a different room or office, walk outside and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Moving to a different space forces your mind to reorient.
- Briefly review your to-do list, decide the most important activity to engage in next, and then do that thing. It could be that you decide to return to whatever you were doing before the reminder popped up. It could be something else. Or it could be writing. You choose.
The Importance of Presence
Accomplishing any goal requires presence. The discipline of stopping — of disengaging from an activity — will help you reorient your mind and heart in the present moment. In that present moment , as you revisit your goals, you reawaken your intentions and give yourself space to focus on what you really want. This, in turn, makes it easier to turn your attention to the most important tasks.