“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”Allegedly a Chinese proverb
The sentence that often accompanies procrastination is “I will do it tomorrow.” In this case, tomorrow is not the next day but that mythical destination where all human creativity, effort and productivity resides. If you think really hard you can almost feel it. Infact, you are sure with just a little more time you will be able to reach it. So does everyone else. So far, no one has reached it.
It’s good to plan. A plan provides a framework you can make reference to as you work towards achieving your goal. A good plan identifies where you are now and what you need to start immediately not what you need to wait for. Being productive starts with acknowledging what you have is the here and now. Then you focus on what you can do and let the future take care of itself.
That you have identified something as important does not mean you will always have the zeal to do it each day. However, having the self-discipline to chip away at an important task one day at a time will guarantee that task eventually gets completed. That also means working even when you fear your work will not be perfect.
Stephen King famously said “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work.” As a writer, Stephen King employs a very effective method of writing a novel. He writes 2,000 words each day. This simple trick is useful because:
- It removes the paralysing fear that the thought of perfection can create. He is not trying to write good words. He is just trying to get 2,000 words typed even if they are poorly written passages.
- It focuses his attention on a day’s work. He is not trying to write a novel at once just 2,000 words a day.
2,000 words may not seem like much for a full time writer. That’s nowhere near enough words for a novel. In his memoir, On Writing King writes “I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book – something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”
Let me paraphrase that. Stop waiting for the perfect time to start. It does not exist. Get started now. Feel free to quote me.