Do you ever feel that you want to take action but are stuck in learning mode? You know you need to take action, you need to get into activity to make good things happen but the learning feels good doesn’t it? Learning about the thing you are going to do is comfortable and it is easy to kid yourself that while you are learning, you are in action.
You may know the truth deep inside, you are not in action mode. You are in learning mode! The problem is that as important as learning is, our minds have a habit of convincing us that we are actually doing the thing we want to achieve, when actually we are studying it.
This has been my experience many times and I’m sure I am not alone. The fact is that learning about something can be a lot easier than actually doing it. Like taking the path of least resistance, you convince yourself you are making progress without picking up the phone, speaking to people, putting pen to paper or whatever it is that equals action in your project.
Learning of course, is important. It is vital to educate ourselves, to study. The challenge though, is to recognise when we are studying, when we should be in activity and to develop the discipline to pull ourselves out of it and take action.
So during my own efforts in finding ways to jump start into action from learning mode, I have discovered these tips to help, that I would like to share:
1. Take Small Steps
A major cause of procrastination is overwhelm. Looking at the mountain of work to get done is daunting and can immediately send you into “think about it” or “learn about it” mode. A trick is to just do something small to start with that gets a quick “win”. The feeling of achieving something as simple as arranging your workspace or getting a quick blog post up, can kick start action mode for other tasks.
2. Simplify The To-Do List
Again, this is to avoid feelings of overwhelm. Having a great big list of things to do is a good thing. It’s good to have these things written down but not always under your nose, like a beacon flashing to highlight all the things you have not achieved!
Distill the to-do list for today’s or this week’s tasks only. What are the most important things that must get done today? Put them on a new list and then ticking them all off for the day keeps esteem and the mood for action, high.
3. Get back to the present moment
We all do it. Either drift into thoughts of the future or of the past. But without getting too Zen about it, the only time we have the power to do anything, is the present moment. Noticing your own breathing for a minute or two is a great way to do this.
Snapping out of over-thinking and just doing something is a good practice to get into. As mentioned above, the key is small steps and to try to avoid getting overwhelmed by the big picture. How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time. It is remarkable how one action leads to another, to another when we can re-connect with the present moment and just do something, no matter how small.
4. Find an accountability partner
If we keep all our plans to ourselves, then it is easy to procrastinate and let ourselves off the hook. Telling somebody else what we want to achieve and then giving them permission to check how we are getting on, creates a whole new situation. We don’t want to let them down. This can be a stronger driver than just not wanting to let ourselves down.
5. Don’t be too serious; have fun
Taking things very seriously is a sure-fire way to make issues seem bigger than they are and stifle action. Developing a lighter state of mind and making a conscious effort to try to relax and enjoy the task, makes it so much easier. Work is only really work if it seems difficult. So lighten up and enjoy what you are doing!