Ryan Martinsen

Starting is Terrible

Starting new things is a huge pain for me. I’ve tried everything from pomodoro timers to allowing myself a bite of ice cream after every line of code I write (only a slight exaggeration).

Classical music puts me to sleep. Jazz music makes me want to dance. Indie music is neutral and my default. Watching TV surprisingly doesn’t help. Shutting off my access to social media works in short bursts. Repeatedly asking why until I’m motivated doesn’t even come close. Neither does wondering what the heat death of the universe would feel like (hot, I’m guessing, based on what it’s called).

I’ve only found one thing that consistently works for me:

Give up and don’t do anything.

Okay, just kidding. It’s this:

Define the absolute simplest thing I could possibly do to get started.

Then do that thing.

Repeat.

It almost never takes more than 3 simple things before I get sucked in.

When I say the absolute simplest thing I really mean it. Think, “stand up,” not “bake cakes for 400 people.” Break it down so that you feel silly not doing it.

Procrastination is the easiest thing in the world. Starting a new project is one of life’s hardest things for me, whether it be an exercise routine or a tiny one-off website to showcase my favorite kinds of donuts. It sounds horribly clich├ęd, but this one simple trick has helped me more than all the other things I’ve tried.

What helps you may very well be a vision board full of photos of cheese bread and Tesla cars. That’s cool. But if it isn’t, try giving up defining the smallest, most silly step you can think of and then go do it. Let me know if it helps.

Work, Productivity
comments powered by Disqus