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If you haven’t read one of David Allen’s books, it’s time to hit up your local library.
For decades, he’s been one of the foremost experts on business and personal productivity. And his GTD system — short for “Getting Things Done” — has a near-cult-like following of productivity lovers. And the book that started it all, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, has one of the best tips for tricking yourself into being productive.
Here it is . . .
Make it hard not to make headway on your task.
Here’s How it Works
Say you want to work out. But you never seem to get around to it. You block out time, you schedule it on your calendar, and you even buy some workout equipment or a gym membership. But it never happens.
Instead of thinking good thoughts, get your workout clothes out the night before. Put your dumbbells or running shoes in a place that you’ll nearly trip over them. Make it so the universe makes it ludicrously easy for you to get started.
Here’s another scenario:
You are looong overdue for cleaning out your cluttered garage. But the project seems so huge that you never start it. And it gets worse and worse every year . . .
Instead of half-hoping you’ll be robbed of your garbage, stick a box in your garage that sits right next to the door to your home. Every day, when you arrive home, you’ll see that big box sitting there as you head inside from your car. So, every day, it’ll take next-to-no effort to grab some item off a peg or shelf and put it into your donation box. When the box fills up, have the Salvation Army pick it up, and plop a new box in its place.Make it hard NOT to make headway on your task.Click To Tweet
Again, this system is all about making your environment such that not accomplishing your task is just as easy as — or even harder than — accomplishing it.
So trick yourself into getting started:
- Put yourself in the right place for your task.
- Get dressed in the right clothes for your task.
- Put the supplies you need in your path so using them is brainlessly easy.
When you set up your environment for success or you dress the part for your intended activity, you’re halfway there. To get started, all you have to do is push play and go.
So try it out. Think of one project that’s been sitting around unfinished or even unbegun. How can you make the process of moving it along fool-proof? How can you set it up so that your spouse or kids can’t help but pitch in along the way?
Share your experience! How has tricking yourself into being productive worked for you?