June 1, 2019

Tricking myself into working

For a long time now, I have been wanting to create a business for myself. I always have had a lot of ideas, but as soon as I started working on one, I found that:

  • Someone else already did something very similar
  • It is much harder than I anticipated
  • I don’t know where to start
  • I don’t know that I am the right person to do it

Now, I know that all of those are just excuses, and that until I persist in one idea for at least a few months, very consistently, I will not really be able to see any results. Maybe a few comments here and there, a few people that will like what I did, but nothing concrete.

The thing is, I am think that I am scared of wasting my time on something that will never work. I am scared that the time that I will sacrifice working on this project will not bring me anything. Writing that out, I understand, on a conscious level that it is not usually true, since I would actually learn more about business, about tech, about the topic I am working on. But unconsciously, there is always this fear that it would not work and that I would waste this time that is so important.

But since I seem to value my time so much that I am afraid to waste it, do I actually use it wisely ? That’s an easy one to answer: NO !

So is it really that I am afraid to waste this time then ? I am not really sure anymore. Am I afraid of something else? Well probably afraid of failure, but why ?

I don’t know about it yet, I am still trying to understand that. But I will try to keep growing, learning and create this business, that I unconsciously think will be what makes me feel better.

What I do know is that I usually find myself a lot of excuses for not doing the work, or just not getting down to it everyday.

Excuses and counter-actions

To help with this, here are excuses I find myself and possible action steps to avoid or mitigate their effect.

I’m not sure about this idea

You’ve got an idea ? Commit to it for a period of time. As long as you don’t, you won’t really know if it is worth it.

Action: Commit to an idea for 3 months


But I am tired when I come back home after work

Classic one, but it appears quite often. This can be mitigated quite easily by just taking a quick nap. You’ll feel better within 15 minutes of waking up.

Action: Take a 15 minutes nap


1 hours every night is a lot I don’t want to work on it tonight

Set up the bare minimum. I’ve noticed that even 15 minutes may be a lot for me. I’m setting up multiple levels, depending on my energy and motivation.

Action:

  • First ask “On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you feel like working ? Why not less ?”
  • Depending choose the duration of work depending on the rating

And I will use the following table to choose the duration of my session

Rating Duration
1 1 minute (Just get down to your workstation)
2 5 minutes
3 15 minutes
4 1 hour
5 max possible hours

I don’t have the willpower

As a pretty common answer you can find about everywhere on the internet, create a habit. For me, the habit will be to get down to it every day.

  • Trigger: End of nap
  • Action: Get at my workstation, see what the next action I need to do is
  • Reward: Eat dinner (Will probably change in the future)

I’d rather watch youtube

Take 10 seconds and ask yourself: Is it really going to be useful to me ? Is this going to make me feel good ? Watching a video is something that I wanted to put in as a reward in my habit creation. But over the last few years, I’ve noticed that it does not make me actually feel good, it just numbs my brain down, putting the pains in the background.

Action: When opening youtube, ask “Is it going to be useful ? Will I feel better ?”


What exactly should I be doing ? I heard that you should test before you start building

Do the most important thing, even if it is the most painful. And usually, the most important thing, especially in the beginning is testing your idea. You want to know if people will be interested, and if they will buy what you have to offer.

Have a very specific schedule. Define which article you will write when, Which phase you will be in (Writing the outline, writing the details, editing, reviewing…), when you will write the landing page, what exactly your course will be about. But first, decide when you are going to schedule. It should be done frequently, but probably not every day, and you should already have a list of unscheduled tasks to accomplish.

If your ideas are not clear, dump them out on the paper, then organize them. This refers back to the previous point, where you should have the list of things that must be done, unorganized. Even if those end up not being the good tasks, to do, or that they are too big. Make sure you have systems in place for those cases.

Action:

  • If you have already listed, sorted and planned your tasks, pick the next one
  • If you have sorted ideas, plan them
  • If you have unsorted ideas, sort them
  • Else, brain dump tasks.

If I also go to the gym, then I have no time

There are always other things that I’ll have to do, such as going to the gym. It is a very important point, especially since I am working all day in front of a computer. But I often don’t feel like it and use the no time excuse to not go exercise.

So in order to stick to it, I’ll do my best to go to the gym every day, and I’ll apply the framework of the notation and bare minimum, with the ranking from 1 to 5 going like:

Rating Duration
1 1 minute (Just put on your shoes and go to the gym)
2 5 minutes (1 exercise)
3 15 minutes
4 30 hour
5 45 minutes to 1 hour

Action: Rate your energy and go to the gym depending on your energy level

As a note, I should try and rate my energy level before leaving the house, and when I get to the gym. It might bring interesting results.


But if I do that, I’ll have no time to relax

You still have plenty of time to relax. You just associate watching mindlessly to relaxing. But you can relax in the train. You can take a 15 minutes nap which will make you relax and feel more rested and ready to go.

This is a bad excuse, but I think one of the worst ones I have. I guess I just don’t want to do like my father did and have only life for my work. But besides that, what do I do ? If I had lots of interesting activities aside, I would be okay with it. But that is not the case. So either I find other activities, either I get more active on my own project.

Action:

  • If you have an interesting activity aside, do it
  • Else, test out new activities

What else ?

I know from experience that I will have days where I won’t succeed following this plan. And that’s okay. The more I try, the more I’ll integrate all of this. And I’ll get to do it more and more easily with time. I am not expecting it to be automatic before at least 6 more month, and even then I will have to be careful not to fall back into my old habits.

I am not sure how to really change my ways of thinking though. I guess that I can only do that through action and feedback telling me that what I do is different than what I had been doing until now. So I’ll keep trying and observe the results of those actions.

NOTE: Reading this post from start to finish again made me want to write this additionnal paragraph, because I noticed that this is very self-centered. It is indeed about my habits, my behaviour. But maybe you can find some insight into your own life in those excuses that I found out for myself. Maybe some of the techniques might help you. And it would be my pleasure to know how, especially if you modified them and saw them being even more effective.

Copyright Marin Gilles 2019-2021