“Just Do It.”
That, dear readers, has to be one of the most successful slogans of all time. (It’s so widely known that I highly doubt I need to tell you it belongs to sportswear giant Nike.)
Those three words pretty much encapsulate what we need in order to improve just about any part of our lives – from our tennis swing to our effectiveness in business.
Here’s a bit of my story that might resonate with you: Procrastination is something that I struggled with growing up. For me, “Just Do It” usually transformed into “Just Do It Later” – I mean, why should I write my essay the week prior if I can just crank it out the night before (or even the morning of)?
I was that sorry kid that managed to get away with it for too long. My “Just Do It Later” mantra worked well enough for it to follow me to college and into early adulthood.
Until the day when all that stressful, last minute scrambling wasn’t enough anymore.
I had to find a new way – I had to do it now.
Do it now. This is an effective iteration of Nike’s slogan because it doesn’t allow for any confusion on when the “it” is happening.
While the timing is now clarified, the other equally important questions of “What is IT?” and “How?” inevitably surface.
First off, I know that defining “IT” can sometimes seem as scary as the movie by the same name. So before we jump to the process of defining this amorphous “IT”, let’s first take a moment to cover a key concept:
5 to 120 seconds may be all it takes to “do it now” and be proactive again.
Why spend a bunch of time worrying about a process when that same time could have been spent moving it forward? This may sound obvious, but so many of us do it. Two authors have valuable insights here that help:
Mel Robbins is the author of a great book called The 5 Second Rule.
She says her 5 Second Rule is simple: “If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.”
She recommends that whenever you feel yourself hesitate before doing something you know you should be doing, count backwards from 5 and then move towards action: “5-4-3-2-1-GO.”
If you don’t take action quickly, your mind will talk you out of taking the action and you’ll remain stagnant.
David Allen is the author of a foundational book called Getting Things Done.
David’s life-changing process can be boiled down to a flowchart in which one of the most catalytic steps is to simply do a next action right away if it takes fewer than two minutes to complete. Why is this so powerful? It prevents us from pressing the snooze button and effectively multiplying the time necessary to get something done.
In his words, “If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it.”
Lastly, as promised, let’s get to defining “IT.”
I always recommend David’s question: “Is it actionable?” This eliminates the confusing next steps that aren’t really next steps. Thereafter and in this context, I recommend asking “What is the smallest next step I can take to move this project/goal/task forward?”
As is often said about long journeys, the first step is the most important step – no matter how small.
Here are some tiny next steps that can be done in 5-120 seconds that might be the ticket:
- Delete that distracting app or turn on airplane mode so you can focus.
- Respond to that email with a concise but polite “no” or an emphatic but brief “yes!”
- Message that person on your mind to start that conversation you’ve been putting off.
- Simply get up and walk around the room while taking deep breaths. You’ll feel better.
- Sign up for that free trial or ask for that help that was offered.
Some additional food for thought:
- How can you break a larger task into smaller components?
- How can you prepare to dive in for a longer chunk of time?
- Simply put, how can you support or inch the process along instead of trying to eat it in just one bite?
Find a simple next step that you can do NOW. Do this again and again – before you know it, you’ll have the momentum you’ve always wanted.
Want help fine-tuning this process? Feel free to apply for a complimentary coaching session with me to review this concept and figure out what else might be holding you back in your business.