Most of us suffer
to some extent from work-aversion. Some of us like out work, and most
us at least dont hate it, but wed still rather be doing
something else most of the time. Thats why they call it work
right? Thats aversion makes getting started the hardest part of
any job. Writers block gets the most press, but folks
encounter executives block and plumbers
block and computer programmers block, too that state
of semi-paralysis brought on by a fear and pain and just plain old lack
of want to.
We all have to learn to work through the aversion if we want to maintain
the habit of eating regularly. But some of us perform time consuming
start up rituals before we start to work and many dont really
work effectively for several minutes even after starting. You may not
even be aware of your rituals, which makes them hard to get rid of.
Some of your warm ups may actually help prepare you to work, but others
may simply postpone the inevitable confrontation. Those are a waste
of time, and you need to get rid of them. Heres how.
1. Prepare Mentally:
Back at the turn of the century, a famous man called Charles Haanel
called the subconscious mind a benevolent stranger, working on your
behalf. For all the subsequent research on the working of the brain,
researchers have yet to encounter a better description. You can get
that subconscious stranger working for you on any job that you have
The night before the job, tell your subconscious exactly what you want
to accomplish the following day. Youre not issuing orders here.
Youre not telling the subconscious how you intend to do the job.
Thats part of the conscious planning stage. Youre simply
planting the idea, giving that larger mind that exists outside of conscious
thought time to mull and sift, combining images and ideas, amassing
energy and positive attitude. Instead of letting the subconscious disaster
tapes play, a visualize yourself performing exactly as you wish.
This is particularly helpful if youre going to speak to a group
or otherwise put yourself before an audience. This isnt a matter
of wishing will make it so. Positive visualization wont
cast a magic spell over your audiences. But it will affect your behavior,
helping you call forth your best effort by concentrating energies and
consciousness. For some great athletes, this ability seems to be a natural
gift, no less than speed, strength and coordination. They talk about
a strange kind of prescience during which they seem to see themselves
hitting the home run, intercepting the pass, or returning the backhand
baseline volley before they actually make the play. What comes to some
as gift you can claim as tool.
2. Prepare physically:
You should have your physical tools assembled and accessible before
you begin the job. If possible, stake out a specific place for the work,
when you can keep everything you need within easy reach and leave stuff
out between work sessions. That way, you eliminate time spent pitching
camp and then tearing it down again each time. Also, when you become
accustomed to doing a job in a specific, youll be focused and
ready to work as soon as you enter that place. It doesnt have
to be fancy or even private. It just has to be yours, and it has to
have the tools you need.
3. Map the terrain:
Before you begin the trip, figure out where you want to go. Remind yourself
of your purpose. Whats in it for you? For your organization? For
the client or customer? If you cant answer these questions, save
yourself time and effort and ensure that youll do a better job
by taking a few moments now to get that information you need and to
focus on what you hope to accomplish. If you still arent sure,
seek out the authorization, approval or verification you need. Again,
a few minutes spent here can save hours later. And youll work
more efficiently and confidently. If the work involves several stages,
write them down first. Dont try to create the sort of orderly
outline only an English teacher could love. Just jot down the steps
or ideas in the order they occur to you. Then number the items in proper
4. Start anywhere:
If you arent ready to start at the beginning, start someplace
else. You cant escape certain sequences. A plumber has to turn
off the water before disassembling the pipes, for example. But jobs
often contain a great deal of flexibility. The finished product has
to be assembled in the proper order, but you dont necessarily
have to tackle the components in that order. A director shoots a movie
in the most practical sequence, getting all the location shots before
returning to the studio for the interiors, for example. These separate
scenes become the raw material for the finished movie. If the director
and the editors do their jobs well, the viewer cant tell in what
order the scenes were shot, the movie tells a coherent, entertaining
story. The seams dont show. When you are thinking your way through
a problem, it doesnt matter where you start. It only matters that
5. Start Anyway:
Researchers know lots of writers who have suffered from blocks at one
time or others. Poets seem especially susceptible to the disease. But
the working stiffs who write on deadline day after day never seem to
get blocked. Lots of times they write when they feel lousy. Lots of
times they worry that lack of time has forced them to do a lousy job.
Folks who cant afford to get writers block dont get
it. The same goes for plumbers block, CEOs lock and bus drivers
block. The poet can afford to wait for inspiration. The rest of us do
the job, inspired or not. If youre good at your, a professional
in the best sense of word, your mood doesnt show in the finished
product. Nobody can tell whether or not you felt like doing it. Fact
is, they dont even care. Theyre interested in the results,
and the results can be just as good regardless of the mental anguish
you felt dragging yourself to the task.
6. Lock out the
We all make mistakes. Writers get to make theirs in private and they
can give themselves the chance to fix them before anybody else sees
them. But when Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre throws an interception,
half the known universe sees him do it and theres no way he can
pull the ball back and take the play over. But researchers know a lot
of writers who compose their rough drafts as if a Lambeau Field full
of rabid fans and multiple millions of TV viewers were watching. Even
worse they write with their editors perched on their shoulders, ready
to pounce at the first sign of dangling modifier.
Maybe youre doing your job that way too, feeling the eyes of editor
or boss or critic while you try to think your way through a challenge.
Its a two step process, first the doing, and then the judgment.
Just as an NFL quarterback has to shut out the howling of the mob and
concentrate on the receiver, you have to shut out concerns about judgement
during the process of creation. If you dont you wont take a chance,
try out an idea, risk a failure in the eyes of the invisible
judge. You might even be afraid to start, and getting started is the
only way you will ever finish.
7. Stop before
you need to:
Momentum is a wonderful feeling; especially when you have got a lot
to do and not much time to do it. The last thing you want when the job
is going well is an interruption. Common sense tells you to keep working
until you are finished. If you cant finish the job in one sitting,
you work until you are exhausted or until you run into a snag you cant
work your way through. But it actually makes a lot more sense to stop
before you get too tired and before you reach a snag.
If you give yourself too much time, you will build up an aversion to
the task, the very material blocks are made of. But if you have stopped
in mid stride, sure of the next step you will take, you will come back
to the job confident and even eager. You wont have to waste any
time getting back into the groove, because you wont have gotten
out of it.