Note: I am not affiliated nor paid for this endorsement of the book mentioned below
The Atomic Habits by James Clear is a great book about self-improvement through time management. It highlights and essentially quantifies the importance of doing something over doing nothing. It sounds simple enough, yet if we’re all guilty of the latter. Even being as ambitious as we are, seeing a daunting task that requires a bit more brainpower than you’ve mentally allocated for has lead to hours of procrastination or, worse, never starting the task ever! Another great concept is the difference between action vs motion. Here’s my take on these two principals and why you should apply to your daily routines.
Self-improvement is important to us, the 11ish collective. We strive to be better than who we were the day before. The challenge is that life is filled with things to do and some things are easier to do than others. Also, somethings are quicker to do than others. Thus, we easily fall into this cycle of telling ourselves to finish all the easy tasks first so that our calendars are clear to tackle the big heavy tasks. The problem with that is that there is ALWAYS something easier than a big brain consuming time commitment.
The fix is stop mentally looking at your large tasks as one giant behemoth of a task! Think about it as an end goal. For example, don’t think about it as a multi-year time commitment to learn a foreign language. Think about it as 15 to 30 minutes of improvement, today. I’m willing to bet that most of your easy tasks around that time commitment, too. The core reason for why this approach works is that we all underestimate the power of compounding incremental improvements. All you need is to strive to be 1% better than the day before, your improvements will guarantee to shock you!
Don’t just move
James calls out a strong distinction between action vs motion. Motion is going through the motions of what you already know without real purpose. Motion is also prepping and planning. Action is doing something with a clear intention of improving. Both are important, but one is definitely more important than the other. If all you do is plan then you are never getting the 1% gain that you seek. If all you do is acting without planning, you will make more mistakes and take longer to improve. Though, as long as your end goal is clear, you will learn from your mistakes and you will inevitably still moving forward!
All in all, do something! And if you don’t have time to plan, then….
To extend the ideas one step further: if you end on a positive note, it gets the ball rolling much easier for next time. Something as simple as writing out a positive outlook of the plan for how you’re going to pick up where you left off will do it. This way, you plan when the vision of your goal is most clear and you can jump right in for next time.