This year, there’s something big you need to do. It was probably on your To Do list last year, but you ran out the clock. This year, you tell yourself, things will be different.
The hard part is starting. To begin anything – a sales call, a business trip, a prison sentence - tough, tough, tough. You get the point, but to continue anyway – now that I’ve started – if you exercise, the hardest pushup is the first one, and Monday, the start of the week, often feels like one long pushup; just pushing yourself out of bed on Monday can require Herculean effort.
(Don’t ever call anyone on Monday, if you can possibly help it, unless you’re absolutely convinced they’ve had at least 20 cups of coffee.)
Years ago, time management guru Alan Lakein proposed an intriguing solution to this problem called the Swiss cheese method.
Start a project, he said, by limiting yourself to a few minutes. Just poke a few holes in it. Do something fast. Suppose, for example, you’re waiting in the dentist’s office – you could even be the dentist, waiting for your hygienist to finish, or your patient to pass out.
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Normally you might look at the latest issue of People, Time, or Adhesion Dentistry. Instead, look at your project – do a few easy things, build momentum. Basically, you trick yourself: “I’ll only spend a few minutes on this project,” you tell yourself. “How terrible could that be?” And then, before you can say, “I hate the Swiss cheese method, I hate Swiss cheese, and I think I may be lactose intolerant,” you’re up and running.
Consultant, author, speaker, and founder of express potential® (www.expresspotential.com), Paul Hellman has worked with CEOs, executives, and managers at leading companies for over 25 years to improve performance and productivity at work. His latest book is “Naked at Work: How to Stay Sane When Your Job Drives You Crazy,” and his columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other leading papers.
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