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The Tinkered Mind
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August 21st, 2020
The day starts, you have a ton to do, particularly one massive project that feels like intimidating even though you’re excited to bring it to life. How do we get the ball rolling? How do we take on the daily Goliaths?
More than anything, it’s a matter of starting, not doing.
Doing something refers to the whole task - which is never within the purview of possible action. We can’t just ‘build a website’. We certainly say that when it comes to language, but that’s the key deception. When it comes to the actual ‘doing’, the language fails to describe the what actually happens. First we open a text editor, then we create the basic html skeleton, then we add styling, then we add more details, functionality, etc.. The task, whether it be building a website from scratch, starting a business, or even something as mundane as doing taxes is actually a huge chain of tiny incremental actions.
Describing our task in more minute detail can have a tremendous effect on the way we get rolling. Instead of writing “do taxes” on the to-do list, its actually a lot more effective to write something like “gather W-4’s”. This is a far easier task, and more importantly, it describes an actual single action.
This specificity can work like magic, particularly because the first actual task is easy, and if we identify it correctly, it can feel like low-hanging fruit.
It’s this actionable low-hanging fruit that helps us get the ball rolling.
Once we’ve actually started, it’s much much easier to jump to the next link in the chain of actions required to get the whole task done.
Strangely enough, human psychology mirrors physics. We all know that it’s much easier to keep the couch moving across the floor than it is to get the couch moving in the first place. This is because the nature of friction for a stationary object is much higher than the friction of a moving object. The same is true of the mind. The friction an idle mind experiences is much higher than the friction opposing a mind in motion.