The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

Tasks that we find enjoyable are easy to start and finish, right? But what about those tasks that we find tedious, dull, or simply don’t have enough time to complete? It can be hard to find the motivation to even begin, let alone finish! As Mark Twain once wrote,

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”.

So, I thought I’d share some ways in which you can get motivated to get started on those tasks!

Whilst Mark Twain is correct, getting started is certainly a lot easier said than done. The problem can begin when we feel overwhelmed about where to even begin. This is especially true when the task appears to be too complicated, or even dull. This is when procrastination comes to play.

So, if the secret to getting ahead is getting started, how do you begin?

You want to get ahead with your business. For once, I’m sure you’d like to be on top of that seemingly never ending to do list. So, it’s time to get started to get ahead. Here are my five top tips to help you embark on your task.

1. Change your mindset

You can’t begin a task when you’re still feeling overwhelmed or stressed. If you mentally checked out hours ago, it’s time to change your mindset. Start by acknowledging that you can dislike a task but still get it done. You don’t like it but can do it. Start by taking five minutes away from the task. Listen to music, go for a walk or chat with a colleague. Clear your mind of anxiety, overwhelm and stress.

Once you have spent a little time clearing your mind, return to the task at hand feeling refreshed and determined. Focus on how you will feel once the task is complete. Will you be feeling a sense of relief? Like a weight has been lifted? Will you feel a sense of achievement?

Set yourself a reward for when you have finished. A flavoured latte, a longer lunch break, or anything that will motivate you.

2. Plan of action

“The secret of getting started is breaking all of your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting with the first one”

- Mark Twain

Clients often come to me feeling overwhelmed. So, I always tell them that if they’re overwhelmed by a large task or it appears to be too complex, break it down. Strip the task back into small manageable bite sized chunks and write this down so you can visualise it. For a large task, try setting out a tick list with each section that you can tick off as you go. This hugely helps with motivation.

If the task appears too difficult, make a list of what aspects you can do. Remember, getting started is half the battle. If you can start with what you are able to complete, this will feel like a huge achievement. Plus, it allows you to research what you don’t know and learn as you go. This can then be done without the task feeling impossible and you putting it off longer.

3. Start small

Don’t put yourself under pressure by thinking you need to spend all day doing this task. Ease into it slowly by committing yourself to work on it ten minutes at a time. When the ten minutes is up, switch off briefly and go grab a drink or quick snack.

The idea behind this is that it prevents the expectation of needing to work for a long, tedious time. Short bursts of working mean you can fully engage with the task for just a short while. It requires less time and energy and helps you to stay focused and motivated.

Once you begin, you will find it easier to skip the 10-minute rule and continue working on the task. Starting the task is the main hurdle, so once you get going, you will feel more confident and naturally want to continue.

4. No distractions!

There is no point setting yourself up to make a start on the task if you are surrounded by distractions. Set the scene before you begin. Put your phone away and turn off any notification sounds. Take a trip to the toilet, grab a drink and then you can begin!

Do you work in an office or a building with an open structure where you can’t escape people? If needs be, try warning people in advance that unless it’s an emergency, you can’t be disturbed for a short while.

Working amongst others can be difficult but it’s important you set out boundaries. This is especially true when it comes to facing tasks you have been avoiding. Colleagues should understand, particularly if you explain and this isn’t a very regular occurrence.

5. Ask for feedback

Once you have taken a crack at it, why not ask a colleague for feedback on what you have done so far? This is especially important if it was a task you were worried was too difficult.

The feedback you receive can show you where you’re going wrong and point you in the right direction. If the feedback you receive is positive, then will no doubt give you the boost of confidence you have been looking for!

As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. Therefore, talking with others will reassure you that we have all experienced this at one point or another.

Are you still struggling to get ahead?

Are you finding yourself unable to do tasks due to lack of time? Or any other reason? Get in touch to discuss how I can help get you started so you can get ahead.

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