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7 Ways To Get Started

7 Ways To Get Started

    Most of the readers coming to Lifehack.org are looking for ways to become more productive, create cooler, better stuff, and make sure that they have some sort of work/life balance. What tends to happen during this process is that when we are trying to create things, we sometimes get stuck.

    Some call it confusion. Others refer to it as “the fear”. Regardless, this bump in the road is all about traveling over the gap from ideas to reality and happens to all creative people at some time or another. This gap from ideas to reality is something that can be handled. Here are 7 ways you can get started.

    Outline and Act

    Sometimes when you are paralyzed and just can’t get any of your ideas started you really just don’t know what to do next. Being the productivity geek that I am I feel that there is nothing that can’t be solved with outlines, lists, or mindmaps.

    So, sit down, brainstorm and outline your ideas on paper (or, of course, your favorite digital tool), pick one single, clear, next action, and then act on it no matter what.

    Copy and/or steal

    I’m not a total Apple, Inc. fanboy, but there is one quote from Steve Jobs I find interesting:

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    “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

    This is good when you have an idea that others have already acted on. For example, if you want to start the next great gadget blog like Engadget, then copy what Engadget does. Don’t copy word for word from their articles, but write about the same things that they are writing about.

    Copying can help you get over the initial fear of getting started, then as you work on your ideas and plans more and more you can become more of “your own”.

    Prototype

    A prototype is a “first or preliminary model of something” and creating one can free you up from the inner voice that says “you can’t create something”. Creating a simple prototype of your idea, whether it’s a website, webapp, iPhone app, physical product, etc. you get an idea of what it will take to make your idea a reality.

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    By creating this first “throw-a-way” model of your idea, you can show yourself that you can bring your thoughts to fruition.

    Brainstorm with outsiders

    There is nothing better than getting fresh ideas when you are at a road block. Talking to people around you that aren’t involved in your business or ideas can give you a super fresh perspective.

    Also, you can obtain some fresh criticism that may make you rethink your idea and shape it into the thing that you need to move forward.

      Focus

      If you are one that says that you are always too busy then it’s no wonder that you can’t get started on your ideas or projects. If you have a great idea and you want to make it happen but can’t find the time to get it done, then you need to focus.

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      The only way to make sure that you can make your dream a reality is if you have the time to do it. Therefore, you need to cut something out that is less important. There are a fixed amount of hours in a day, but you are the one that has control of what you can and cannot do with those hours.

      So, either find the time and get started or ditch the idea. It’s that simple.

      Identify fears and then smash them

      If you are trying to start a business or something on the side of your “traditional job” you can have a host of fears. Instead of just letting the fears linger and then try to start your idea, you could try to identify them and then smash them.

      Write down everything that you are afraid of and then try to come up with the reasons that you are afraid. Nine times our of ten you will find that your fears aren’t grounded in reality. This can be the kick in the pants you need to get started on your idea.

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      Expect everything less than perfection

      Even with the best idea, a solid 5-year plan, outlines and project plans, time, money, etc., your idea won’t be perfect. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.

      If you go into the creation process of your ideas expecting perfection, you will be defeated in the first day. Instead expect nothing. Work hard and create what you want. Then make it better. And after that make it better.

      It’s this type of iteration and constant improvement that make good ideas great and allow you to get started without the burden of making everything great at day zero.

      Motivation is a tricky thing. Mostly because it all comes back to yourself and your choice to do something or not to do something. All the tips and tricks in the world are no good if you don’t use them and then chase your ideas. So, if you have an idea that you are not starting on, stop looking for advice, try one of the ways to get started above, and then make your idea a reality.

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      CM Smith

      A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

      The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

      Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

      Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

      The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

      Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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      Program Your Own Algorithms

      Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

      Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

      By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

      How to Form a Ritual

      I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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      Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

      1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
      2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
      3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
      4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

      Ways to Use a Ritual

      Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

      1. Waking Up

      Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

      2. Web Usage

      How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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      3. Reading

      How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

      4. Friendliness

      Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

      5. Working

      One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

      6. Going to the gym

      If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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      7. Exercise

      Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

      8. Sleeping

      Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

      8. Weekly Reviews

      The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

      Final Thoughts

      We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

      More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

       

      Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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