It’s amazing the work you can get done in an hour.
I heard a rule once for beating procrastination. It went like this:
- Anything that can be done in 3 minutes, do now.
- Anything that can be started in 3 minutes, start now.
Obviously, there is the matter of prioritization, but the main point is simple: starting is half the battle.
As a freelancer, I find I spend a lot of my day trying to keep starting, particularly because I’m rarely sure I can complete my task if I do start. I recently spent over a week putting off writing the copy to a website. The parts I knew how to do (research, interviews) went by fast enough. But the rest of the assignment felt nebulous and undefined, and as a result I kept imagining it would take more and more time. Seven hours. Ten hours. Twelve hours…
Finally, with the deadline at hand, I sat down and forced out two solid hours of work. The next day, I finished the first draft in an hour.
Writing is a miracle. I feel it every time I set about a project, anxious, convinced of my inevitable failure. And then, at the end of an hour, maybe two, I manage to have composed something, and it usually works.
Every act of creation is a leap of faith. Artists, inventors, composers: there’s no way to guarantee that that thing you set out to do will be a success at the end of the day. No one’s ever painted the picture you’re about to paint, invented the machine you’re about to invent, or written the music you’re about to write. You can’t be certain of how much time it will take, or if the end result will be at all valuable. Your painting could be crap. Your machine may not help anyone. Your music might be maudlin, melodramatic, saccharine, cliché. And yet somehow, by some mysterious algorithm, you put a certain amount of work in and a creation emerges. How is it possible? It happens to me every day, and I still don’t understand.
What I do know is that somehow, through some function of discipline, curiosity, and tenacity, your work will happen.
Sit down and work on a project for an hour. At the end you will have made more progress than you could have imagined at the beginning.
Believe that, and make the leap.