A few mornings ago, I found myself avoiding a dishwasher full of clean dishes. The “Clean!” light was on, flashing for attention, but I ignored it (if I don’t look at it, it’s not on, right?). I ignored it while making breakfast, while emptying the dish drainer, and while tidying up the rest of the kitchen. I ignored it while having breakfast, and when I dumped my rinsed but dirty breakfast dishes into the sink, and as I sat down to start my work.
An hour or so later, I stepped into the kitchen to reheat my coffee. Ah yes…still blinking! My standard coffee re-heat time is either 1:11 or 1:23, depending on my mood. [I run many miles at a time, but please don’t ask my fingers to move an inch more than necessary over that microwave keypad…] I briefly considered how to spend the next 71 seconds. I could…
…stare at the microwave. [Boring.]
…eat pineapple tarts. [Tasty, but I have a 2-tarts-per-day limit, and I didn’t want to eat my whole allotment before 10 AM.]
…clean up the…nope, the kitchen was already tidy, see above.
…well, since by that time there were only sixty seconds left, I figured that it wouldn’t kill me to empty a few items out of the dishwasher.
So, I pulled open the door (take that, flashing light!) and got started. In fact, I got the whole bottom rack emptied, dishes put away, before the microwave finished. And guess what? It wasn’t so bad. [Shocking, right?] In fact, it was so “not bad” that I decided I would just go crazy and empty the whole thing. Not doing so just seemed…stupid, really. And about 2 minutes later, I was finished: Order was restored to the kitchen, and I had a hot cup of coffee.
So what’s the point? [Because I know that you didn’t come all this way just to read about my dishwasher.]
The point is that, sometimes, you just have to start. Whether your goal is to empty the dishwasher, tackle a work project, do some home organization, or get out for a run – just start. Set a timer for 2 or 4 or 10 minutes, and dig in. Make the first part seem as easy and accessible as possible, to help conquer your initial reluctance. Once you get started, you’ll probably find that whatever you’re doing isn’t so bad, and you won’t really feel so inclined to stop.
I’m a science-nerd at heart, so when I think about this phenomenon, I think of two science concepts. Let’s take a quick look (don’t worry, this will be painless!):
Concept #1: Energy of Activation (of a Reaction)
Concept #2: Static Friction > Kinetic Friction.
Friction is the force that resists two object moving against each other.
Static friction is friction between two object that aren’t moving (a heavy box sitting on the floor). Kinetic friction is friction between two objects that are moving in relation to each other (that same box sliding along the floor).
Static friction is generally greater than kinetic friction – In other words, a greater initial force will be required to start the box moving, but once you’re sliding it along the floor, less force will be required.
Both of the above examples involve situations where a higher input of energy is required to get started, then a lower level of energy is needed to maintain the activity. It works in chemistry, it works in physics, and it will work in your life. So what are you waiting for? Just get started!
Is there anything hanging out on your To-Do List today that needs a “just get started” jumpstart??