9 strategies to unlock your potential, get your project started and beat procrastination

Do you struggle to get a project going?


Are you a professional procrastinator or a reluctant starter? Then read on.
If you are not a natural go-getters, maybe this 9 action catalysts might be for you.
What do I mean by action catalysts?
Sometimes to move we need to “force ourselves” (as things don’t just seem to happen by
themselves). We need to create conducive conditions, we need to remove all our procrastination
excuses.

I. Peer pressure
Gyming does not come natural for a good percentage of people. Yet if one gyms with someone
else or has a trainer waiting for him, having made that commitment creates enough “pressure” to
get us there. Make an appointment with someone, invite someone, force yourself to get going.

II. Gather an audience
My wife always teases me that I call for a meeting and I have no clue what I’m going to say, I just
have a very sketchy idea of what we are going to do. But just having booked an audience (whether
it is people that I know – like a bunch of friends – or not), forces me to move, makes it unavoidable
for me to face the music.

III. Get help
Sometimes just to have somebody who comes in, who knows the field you are trying to do
something in, might just assist. You can make your problem his problem and can use his
knowledge as a launchpad now!

IV. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Often, we seem to get stuck because we take our decision-making very gravely. For some reason,
our choices are often a once in a lifetime, life-depends-on-this, type-of decision, even when we
order lunch.
Once we realise that life actually doesn’t depend on a single choice, we can take ourselves less
seriously, realizing that not every decision needs to be made extra carefully.
To regain perspective, just quickly write a list of all the options that come to mind, whiteout filtering
them or ordering them from the ultimate to the worst – just write them down. You might see that
there are actually a number of them, that there isn’t a perfect one and that several are similar. Just
pick one, get unstuck.

V. Stop believing that you only have one shot at this
Yes, sometimes we only have one shot at something, like pitching an idea to somebody who is
incredibly busy and influential – the famous elevator pitch. But more often than not, we will have
more than one attempt at our disposal.

When you think that you only have one shot at it, you are paralyzed by the fear of not doing a
perfect job, so you forever wait to formulate/produce that idea/plan perfectly.
If you instead realize that this is not your last chance, you can relax a bit and just take a step.
Maybe it is not going to be the perfect step, but it will get the project going.
Just recently I put together a short radio ad for an event. I did it quickly, it was done, we rolled, the
client loved it and that was it. It took me very little time, and I got it out of my way. Was it perfect?
No, it wasn’t. Was it so bad? It really wasn’t. Would my having spent much more time on it have
made a big difference? Not really.

Perfect is not always what you are looking for.

VI. Start with a quick win
Climb a hill before you climb a mountain. Start with something that you know will be easy to do.
You will be energized by the progress and will be able to tackle more difficult tasks with greater
energy.

VII. Go with your flow
This requires knowing a bit about yourself. Notice when you are energized, what stimulates you,
and on the other hand, what depletes your energy, what becomes difficult.

Why is this important? If you need to do a task that is not so very up your alley, that you are not
ultra-motivated to do, then do it when you have energy for it, not when you are totally exhausted.
You hate admin, but part of your porcess requires some admin. Then do that when you will not be
able to hide under the low energy carpet.

If you need to do something that requires concentration and clarity, choose a time of the day and a
place that helps you with that. Learn to do the stuff you need to do when you know you will have
the energy, the right frame of mind, or be in the right environment for it – or you will never do it.
Remove all excuses.

VIII. Use constraint to create: limit to create
Contrary to popular belief, limitations are very helpful. We often think, I wish I didn’t have any limits,
I wish I had a big budget, I wish I had a lot of time, I wish…

The truth? Actually, limitations help us. Generally, we get paralyzed by an abundance of options.
Yes, a constraint of sort limits our options, but it also streamlines our process.

When it comes to constraint, I often use the example of the renowned Italian poet, Dante Alighieri.
He wrote probably the most important Italian literary piece. In fact, the Italian language is based on
this work of art, called “The Divine Comedy”.

If you study it, you will see that the pattern used within the book is incredibly stringent.

This work of literature is divided into three cantiche (three volumes). Each cantica is divided into
thirty-three canti (songs). Each canto uses a terza-rima rhyming form. Each canto is divided into
four stanze (verses). Each stanza is divided into three lines. Each stanza has thirty-three syllables.
Three sections totaling ninety-nine poems, (actually a hundred as there is an introductory one), all
using the same rhyming pattern, all divided into four verses, each verse using three lines, each line
composed of eleven syllables.

Wow, what a rigid framework. Yet, Dante was able to create this immortal literary work of art within
this inflexible structure that he gave himself, and believe me, even though the skeleton is so very
stiff the poetry is not lacking.

In my life as a music producer/mixer, I have worked with a lot of musicians. The greatest artists
among them were those who were most acutely aware of the limitations they were facing, be it
their own or be it the production’s ones. Yet within those boundaries, they could create immense
beauty.

See constraint as a tool to find a starting point, a way to limit the variables, hence fixing certain
known factors to depart from. As examples, I would like to mention four types of constraint one
could use:

I. Timeline constraint: what can I do now
II. Geographical constraint: start near.
III. Budget constraint: set the spending.
IV. Size constraint: divide the project in achievable chunks.
IX. Bugs

We often act when our frustration level has reached an all-time high. When we get irritated, fed up
with something which “bugs” us, we often end up doing something about it. Bugs are very powerful
action catalysts. Do you know that a baby is born when he gets so frustrated with the small space,
he lives in that he decides to do something about it. “I am out of here, this room is too small for
me”.

Hence a bug, a frustration can be changed into action, an opportunity for a new business venture,
an unexplored artistic avenue, or a new teaching methodology for your kids.

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