December 9th, 2011


Written by Lucy Sharpe


I can hear you say “Ugh” right now. There’s nothing new about a post on procrastination, you’ve heard it all and then some and for some reason the word “procrastination” creates a visceral reaction in your body with a tightening in your stomach and a clenching of your jaw. How can talking about this ever help you right? Well I’m not going to tell you what to do, I am only going to tell you a short story about what happened to me and then maybe, you will see some beauty or find an ‘aha’ moment that will mean something to you and help you jump right into whatever it is you feel you need to do. Here goes nothing

Newton's BallsI felt inertia working on me in the most unsuspecting and sneaky way possible.

I started my business with the help of the Toronto Business Development Centre where excellence and speed were expected to complete the program. The work was described during an information session as a Masters of Business in 12 weeks. Needless to say, the entire group was exhausted and super busy. But somehow we all managed to complete pages upon pages of our business plans with original surveys and research that consumed approximately 60 hours of work per week.

The pace was steady and high but for some reason, the process for me felt like moving through air. I kept getting things done and feeling really hot about myself. Then the in class portion was over. It was time to get to work in the ‘real world’. Like fledgling birds we were kicked out of the nest and were told to keep our heads up and our eyes on our business plan because the reality was that when we left, we would most likely feel like we had nothing to do: Everything would stop. Dead.

I didn’t feel this at first. I had set things up so I would be busy and had appointments booked up until a month in advance. This effort output continued and I thought, thank god that didn’t happen to me. And then it did.

The appointments I had booked slowly passed and things slowed down to a crawl for a  month. And then the “should haves” begin to creep into my mind. While lamenting in the  “should haves” I began to think and procrastinate on the “should haves”. I thought about  what I had done wrong, I reflected on how I should change things, I thought and thought  and thought. And inertia had kicked in. As I thought, the only thing that kept happening  was thinking and so nothing in the physical world was accomplished, and in reality, very little in my mind was accomplished while on the broken record.

                                         And then one day I did the “should haves”.  

And you know what, embarrassed as I am to say it, the “should haves” only took me 20 minutes. The cycle was over and the inertia turned back into a positive effort = outcome. I felt good again. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

So when you look at that thing that you think will take an hour or two, or maybe even a week – try an experiment: break it down and just commit to 5 minutes a day (thank you Andy Heap). That shouldn’t interrupt your thinking and thinking phase too much. Then let me know what happened.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.”

Organizing Tip: if you want service when you go into a store, ask the employee who is busy at the time (stocking shelves, moving around the store quickly) to help you. They are experiencing inertia in a positive way and you will most likely be served faster.

Visit next month for a touch of, ‘organizing products: friend or foe?’

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One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing – I am in the fledgling birds kicked out of the nest on December 22nd full of excitment and what if.

    Needed to hear the pitfalls.