Ever had one of those days where you feel that no matter how hard you try, there is always more to do, so what’s the point trying? Sometimes stuff just piles up and gets on top of us and we feel that we have no chance to catch up. When your to do list is so long that you can’t face looking at it and you don’t know where to start, it can seem easier to just ignore it all and come back later.
In these situations, we all know that in order to get back on track we have to get up and do it, but finding the motivation to actually get up gets tougher the longer we leave it. We might tell ourselves that we’ve had a bad day, we deserve a break, we can get round to it later, or we’ll do it tomorrow when we feel more motivated. These are all just excuses we use to justify not doing it now, because we don’t feel like we can achieve anything.
A great way to break through this pattern of negative thinking is to do a 5 minute blitz. Whatever mountain is facing you, be it a messy house, a seemingly endless inbox, a pile of homework or a backlog of laundry, just commit to doing 5 minutes work on it. It doesn’t feel so much like you’re facing a mountain when you know you’re only going to spend 5 minutes tackling it, does it?
5 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time, it’s an easy, manageable chunk. It also doesn’t seem like much can be done in 5 minutes. This is where you will surprise yourself. Just make the commitment to the 5 minute blitz, set a timer, and see how much you can get through. Start wherever you feel you can. Do the little bits round the edges of the mountain if that’s what you can manage with for now. Do the biggest bits first if you can face them. It doesn’t matter, as long as you do 5 minutes.
When the timer pings, stop. Sit down, make a cup of tea, relax for a bit. Now look at how much you got done in those 5 minutes. Not bad, is it? You’ve made a start. You’ve taken a chunk out of the mountain. You’ve proved to yourself that you can actually get somewhere. Maybe you feel motivated to continue. Whether you’ve just cleared a bit of space in the clutter or made a sizeable dent in your mountain, you’ve shown yourself how easy it is to make at least a little progress.
If your particular mountain is to big to make a noticeable difference in only 5 minutes then try a serious of 5 minute blitzes spaced out between periods of relaxing. Give yourself 5 minutes break between blitzes, or longer if you feel like you need it. Set the timer for the rest periods as well as the blitzes. Once you get going, you’ll start to find the timer pinging at the end of the blitz frustrating, and you’ll feel that the rest periods are too long. You could have got that next bit done if you didn’t have to stop for a rest again. That’s your motivation back!
5 minutes is an arbitrary length of time that suited my mountain today. I find it works well for me. Your mountain may be better suited to longer or shorter blitzes, pick a duration that works for you. Some tasks are better suited to a fixed number of items rather than a length of time. The same principles apply though. Clear out 5 emails then take a break. Iron 2 things then take a break. Whatever works, whatever you can face. Even the smallest step is better than staring at the mountain wondering where to start and not actually starting.