Ever watch kids on a school playground? Once the bells rings, they gallop out of their classrooms in a chorus of laughing, screaming and sheer joy. The magic of childhood is the ability to be totally in the moment. Unfortunately, we seem to lose this in adulthood. Work, commitments or fatigue often rob our motivation and energy. And that can lead to procrastination. Even on stuff we normally enjoy doing.
The other day I noticed some kids on a swing set. They slowly started rocking back and forth. With each backward and forward motion, they gradually created more momentum. Soon they were swinging higher and higher, giggling and laughing.
The simple mechanics of the swing set got me thinking about productivity and procrastination. Like any task, some effort is required in the beginning. When you sit on a swing, it takes a bit to get going. But then you develop momentum and climb higher. In short order, you're rewarded for your effort.
What I realized is that it all comes down to the start. The simple act of sitting down and beginning the task at hand. I don't know why this is, but once you actually start, just like the swing set, you generate momentum. Even when you don't really want to do the task at hand, it seems to get easier after you start.
Today was a hot summer day and I lacked motivation to paint. Sipping on a cold iced tea and watching television seemed more inviting. But, I went into my studio and just started. At first, I was unsure what to paint. I flipped through some sketches and images on my computer. I settled on a mountain scene. I started mixing puddles of paint and before long a painting emerged. I had become completely engrossed. Best of all, despite my initial laziness, my reward was a decent little mountain painting.
Starting is easier if you design your home and life for success. For example, I've set up my studio so everything is ready to go. I use a palette box that closes, so the paint stays fresh longer. When I complete a painting, I always put a fresh panel on the easel for my next session. For exercise, I leave my running shows in a prominent place. They serve as a visual cue. Of course, my dogs do a good job of getting me off the couch too!
The next time you don't feel motivated to paint, write or pursue your passion, go ahead and start anyway. The same holds true with exercise. Just throw on your running shoes and start.
Sure, there will be days when starting doesn't lead to much. But I'll wager that most of the time it will. Once you begin, you'll get absorbed in the task at hand. And before you know it, you'll be swinging high and feeling good about your accomplishment!