I've been struggling with procrastination lately a lot more than normal. Because, let's face it, we all struggle a little with that evil being!
I was scrolling through my older blogs and this one popped up that fit my situation so well, I wanted to re-share it with you. Enjoy!
Two minutes...that's all it takes?
I think it was about four years ago. Someone once told me that she doesn’t go to any more writer’s meetings nor take anymore writing courses. Her reasoning? “Because I don’t learn anything new.” The weird thing is that I sort of agree. I don’t always learn something NEW when I attend these programs, but I ALWAYS get a light bulb moment. It’s usually something I forgot about or even an idea to look at, something I typically do differently.
So, with that said. Has anyone heard of Skillshare? (https://www.skillshare.com/) I recently discovered it, and the first class I watched was on productivity. Aren’t we all in some way working on this? There was a lot of information I’d heard before, but I was hearing them said differently. For example, one of the things he talked about was a two-minute rule. Meaning, if something takes less than two minutes to do, do it now rather than putting it on a “to do” list. I started doing this, and it really gave me those “I’ve done something” moments—a positive reinforcement type of thing. I try to do this every day with anything decision I face. If it takes less than two minutes, then I just do it. Now…what about those things that take longer? Well…we default to the five-minute rule. What this means is: If you’re faced with a task that you’re struggling to get done, tell yourself, “I’m only going to work on this for 5 minutes, and that’s it.” Now, you’re thinking, if this task takes longer than five minutes to complete, why even start? Good question!
Newton’s First Law of Motion – If something is still, it will stay still. If it’s moving, it will continue moving unless an external force acts on it. So, we must start. Ergo, your five-minute rule. So, let’s apply this to writing, shall we?
How do we make these five minutes less stressful?
We start by prepping the area, get our stuff together and turn on the computer. Open the files we need, pull up a blank document or the current document.
This starts the motion. Think about it. You’ve already got everything set in place to write. Continue that motion by writing.
Okay, I’m giving everyone two minutes to get something to write with. That means a paper and pen, or even pull up a word document.
So, you’re going to start with the words above and think about your current or new manuscript. Now, complete this sentence and go on to explain in detail what you want to happen. You can tell it, no need to focus on showing. But, if you get into showing, that’s fine. Now, I’m setting the timer. Ready, set, go! (Go on…I’ll wait while you try this)
Okay, so count your words. It’s okay if you only got 20 words. Now, you did this many words in only two minutes! How many of you could’ve kept writing if the timer hadn’t stopped you? That’s the external force stopping the motion. You wouldn’t have stopped unless told to do so. Let’s say you give yourself five minutes towards writing new words…you’d have double this amount. If you set up another five minutes, you’d get more, and so on and so on. Think about it.
I’d like to recommend a book: Atomic Habits by James Clear This book is exciting.
One more thing from this class that I thought was really interesting:
Pareto Principle – 80% of the results will result from 20% of the effort. OR 80% of output will result from 20% of the input.
So, basically, first draft (crap draft) is 20%,
next round of edits is 20% (focus on active verbs & dialogue),
next round 20% (focus on plot arc),
next 20% is the character arc.
Think about this for a moment. You only need to input 20%, and you get 80% done afterward with the edits.
It goes back to what we hear all the time: You can’t edit a blank page.
We all need that 20% to start. If you’re a new writer or beginning in a new genre, or anything really. Remember getting those words on the page will get you 80% closer to a final draft.
Although this is focused on writing…you CAN apply it to anything else in your life. Let that stew.
Then, let me know how it worked out for you. I’d really like to know!