If you just work on something you will feel a sense of progress without actually accomplishing anything.
If you can’t answer the question “What are you trying to finish right now?” then you’re probably making the task bigger.
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Confidence is helpful, but comes after starting. To the procrastinator, a task feels dangerous - it’s when he could be exposed as a fraud. So before starting, he looks for more assurance that things will go well. This leads to more planning, more thinking, more delaying.
The longer and dustier your to-do list gets, the more it seems like a hopeless tangle.
But it’s a mirage, created when you try to map out everything in your head without actually doing anything. The whole list looks different the moment you knock off one tough thing.
Procrastination involves thinking about doing, without much actual doing.
Beginning anything seems dangerous, but the real danger is delay. The most predictable, most damaging, and most easily avoidable dangers come from stalling.
Tasks that are being avoided by us hang around like a dark cloud. Soon there are many such clouds hovering around us. We could start working on a task, but as soon as we think of doing something, we get lost in the cloud.
When a deadline or any other urgency makes us finally tackle the cloud-like task, it changes shape, becomes small, solid and clean. We then realize that the cloud wasn’t the actual task, but was a foggy mess of immaterial stuff. The task is the final product, the solid object which is easier to handle.
What seems like a tangled cloud of open-ended old to-dos is actually a series of independent happenings, which are best treated individually.
Once you’re treating each obligation as separate from the whole bundle of “stuff to-do”, you can see that they each have a very predictable life cycle and it brings in the realm of the concrete.
Your to-do list can be a tool that guides you through your work, or it can be a big fat pillar of undone time bombs taunting you and your unproductive inadequacy.
If the instructions are clear, specific, and easily carried out, you're golden. If not, you'll get undesirable results, such as fear, procrastination, and self-loathing.
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