Work in the dark to light up tomorrow

It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light. 

This Under Armour commercial featuring the legendary Michael Phelps shows his hard, painful work. And, reminds us of navigating in the dark. The dark here refers to the time spent away from the limelight, missing parties, sacrificing social gatherings, shortened holidays, pushing the limits and the list goes on.

Pandemic is dark. Away from casual work interactions, work from home has days that run continuously without any breaks, weekdays and weekends match in colours and make the days feel dark. As we cautiously live with health safety boundaries and await life to be normal again, the wait is wearing one down, making it a dull wait on some days. Fatigue makes it look dark. Like the ad, where dark days stands for time away from the social limelight spent in hard practice, dark days in pandemic stands for days spent away from the normal work life and routine.

What we do now, especially in our work life, will put us in the light. It could be a shift in business strategy, implementation of new ideas or just being in action in the dark that will get us more share of light, when it reappears.

But, it is tough to navigate in the darkness especially while waiting for normalcy. So, when the New Yorker published this cartoon series on procrastination, my smile spread wide. If you have been cooking ideas and plans and growing a wish list in your mind, you will relate to this cartoon. I realised I’m not just one type of procrastinator, I am different types of procrastinator depending on the mood and the time I am in.

Right in the beginning of the lock down, there were a lot of loud messages around #itsoktobeok. But, the same #itsoktobeok, by the middle of the lockdown feels heavy and unreal. When I shared the following picture with some friends, almost all hands in the group went up.

Ryan Holiday, author of several books, wrote a piece on routine vs practice. His theory, which resonates well, is that when routines are thrown out of life, practice takes over. So, if the routine of working out in the gym after dropping the child to the bus stop has been forcibly changed, but if you have been a master of practice, and not routine, your practice of working out will not suffer. You will find time and follow your fitness practice  irrespective of the past routine.

Procrastinating can crawl up as a habit in an un-routine ambience. It is not being lazy. It is just the mind’s way of delaying the task, with a guilt. A part of the mind is conscious of the delay, but at the same time, the other part of mind gets engaged in some non-productive form of activities. During uncertain times and non-routine days, procrastination takes the centre stage. Initially, in the early days of work from home, the phrase #itsoktobenotok worked well. But, like everything is good in small doses, not in large quantities, the phrase started to add more strength to procrastination.

The internet is full of ideas on how to wake yourself up to action. If you are reading them and still procrastinating, just take two steps:

1.One battle at a time 

One battle at a time means pick up just one job from your list – read a book, exercise, start painting, pen down an idea, write a strategy note or start a course. Pick up just one today, the one that looks hardest or the one that you know is your priority. Take one action for this task. So if it is about an idea, just draw the flow chart of the idea, or take the step towards your hustle. It starts with one actionable step and one task at a time. Take the action today.

2.Create a friction

Friction always works in the direction opposite to the direction in which the object is moving, or trying to move. For example, when you try to push a table along the floor, friction makes this difficult. The second way of avoiding productivity delay is to create a friction for the activity that takes your time mindlessly. You would know where your time is spent or what makes you delay the task.

Hide the remote, delete the app, do whatever it takes to create a friction or resistance to use something that has been consuming your time. It works. I have tried setting time control on my Sudoku app, it didn’t work. I tried deleting the app for a few days. I am now conscious of how much time I am spending on Sudoku. It is not about killing the habit but to be conscious of the time spent.

Sometimes we have to get into action to stop thinking. That is the simplest way to avoid being a super procrastinator.

It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light. Rule yourself.

Under Armour

#productivityhack

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