Outsmart Procrastination with the Three Minute Mosey

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When I came back, I told you I was going to share with you the secrets I’ve used to completely reshape my life from the ground up.  I’m currently compiling those lessons into an upcoming product called God Mode: Enabled.  Here is a small selection from the eBook portion of the book!

Ten Superhuman Seconds

As I mentioned in Stop Procrastinating in Ten Superhuman Seconds, procrastination is one of the greatest enemies we face in our day-to-day lives.  There are plenty of different causes for procrastination, but generally they all fit into three categories: fear, anxiety, and apathy.

Fear can come in many forms.  You can be afraid of how difficult or unpleasant a task can be.  You can be afraid of how much time the task will take out of your life.  You can be afraid of failure.  You can be afraid of success.  Fear of success, believe it or not, can often be more paralyzing than the fear of failure.

Anxiety is similar to fear, but typically has its root in different sources.  Usually anxiety comes from a feeling of being overwhelmed.  This can occur when a problem is very complex, or when you have a lot of problems to solve.  In fact, procrastination directly contributes to increased anxiety, as more and more tasks pile up around you.  Talk about a vicious cycle, huh?

Apathy is the last cause of procrastination that you’ll most commonly find yourself running into.  It’s often misclassified as laziness, however I find that procrastination through apathy has more to do with a personal reason for doing something, rather than laziness.  Being lazy usually implies that a person has no success with anything, nor do they produce anything, which is very, very rarely the case.  Even someone who spends all day playing video games produces online friends, rivalries, high scores, and other sundry accomplishments

Instead, apathy has to do with a lack of desire to reprioritize.  Lack of motivation or personal connection to a task can cause you to put it off over and over again in favor of other things you care more about.  This is why so many projects, assignments, and endeavors tend to get finished very close to a specified deadline, AKA “crunch time.”

The funny thing about all of these, is that frequently they can be overcome by one simple action: beginning the task that you are putting off.  Now, I say simple for a reason, because though this action is simple, it’s not always easy.  Ten Superhuman Seconds is often enough to jump-start small tasks, and trick your mind into beginning a task you’re putting off.  However, this does not fit all tasks – particularly tasks where difficulty and required time investment are a factor.

That’s where the Three Minute Mosey comes in.  It’s the technique I use to get myself engaged for potentially longer tasks, that I need to rev my brain up for, and have it firing on all cylinders to really make any headway.  This applies to things like (in my case, at least,) outlining a new book, beginning a workout session, or answering a bunch of emails.

Now, the word “Mosey” is very intentional here.  What you’re looking to set up is a comfortable, low-pressure environment for you to ease yourself into.  The strategy is very similar to the Ten Superhuman Seconds technique, but the theme behind it is a bit different.  This isn’t a sprint, it’s a stroll through the park.

Get all your tools assembled, as before.  Make sure you’ve got a clock in range that you can see from where you are, but that’s not in your immediate field of vision from where you’re working.  Now, take a deep breath, calm yourself as best you can, and say (out loud, if possible,) “I’m going to devote the next three minutes to this project.”

Now, what’s three minutes, honestly?  Less time than it takes to microwave a TV dinner.  Probably half the time you spend showering in the morning (maybe less, if you’re taking a nice relaxing shower.)  Way less time than the average phone call to a friend.  So, make the promise to yourself that you’re going to give yourself just three minutes of time to make a little headway into your project.  No pressure!

As before, it’s important to have a way to check your time, but not a way to notify yourself when the three minutes are up!  For that one, you’re relying on your own internal clock.  Work on something for what feels like three minutes, then take a quick check of the time.  Has it been three minutes yet?  If not, keep working!  If it has, then you’re done!  Give yourself a pat on the back!  Seriously, say out loud, “Hey, good job MyName!  You did it!”  Again, out loud is so much more powerful than in your head.  Smile when you say it, too.

Now, you’re free to go.  You can stop if you want, and feel great for already having done more today on the project of your choosing than you would have otherwise.  But really…would another three minutes be so bad?  I mean, that first three minutes really didn’t hurt at all, did it?  Another three wouldn’t kill you…

Do you see where I’m going with this?  Now, this works awesome for stuff like workouts, or studying.  If you go for a three minute walk, walking for another three minutes is painless.  Reading a book for three minutes?  Heck, what’s three more?  The important thing, though, is not to go into your task with the idea that you’re going to be doing multiple three minute sessions.  If you end up doing so, happy coincidence, but praise the hell out of yourself for getting just the one session done.  We want to create a positive feedback loop here just like we did with our Ten Superhuman Seconds.

The really great thing about the three minute mosey is that you frequently end up working for more than three minutes, even on your first session.  Personally, I can never write, read, or record for just three minutes.  Even if I hate what I’m doing, if I start with a three minute mosey, I always end up getting ten minutes of work done before I even think to look at the clock.

The important thing is to keep the pressure as low as possible.  You don’t want to trigger anxiety, you don’t want to be thinking about the end result and triggering fear.  You don’t want to be getting angry or unhappy about working and triggering apathy.  Just realize it’s three minutes of your life, and you’re never going to miss it.  It’s all good.

Now, as I mentioned at the start, this is just a small excerpt of my upcoming mega-project, God Mode: Enabled.  There will be more coming soon, so make sure to keep your eyes on the blog in the near future!

I’ll see you again on Monday!  As always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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