(Un)Productivity

The Magic of Getting Started

Start your engine…

Start your engine…

Today was a bad day. It started with getting woken up by some crazy guys throwing firecrackers into my patio because of some party here in my barrio in Cartagena. At 5 o´clock. In the morning. I had gotten about four hours of not too restful sleep because of thinking on my projects this night. I need eight hours to work, and at least six to survive. Things didn´t look too well.

Outside, it was raining. I decided to go to the beach to take a swim, hoping that my body would start to work. Hell, I never felt so much cold in my years in the Caribbean as this morning while standing on the shore, getting ready to jump into the warmer water. I swam a bit, got out, back onto the bus, straight home – to work.

But once I got here, I noticed the missing hours of sleep – and also the coming of a cold. My nose was running. My head ache. Not too much, just this tiny little knife point on your forehead that is communicating very clearly that things can get worse within the blink of an eye. *Drip* – Damn air-condition on the bus. I got some Kleenex tissues. Well, actually I got toilet paper. Whatever.

I decided to just start reading some stuff online, checking out Paid to Exist and The Black Sheep Project, answering some mails, etc.
When I wanted to take a nap around midday, visitors came into the house I live and instantly took away all the tranquility that I needed. No nap. But in exchange, more nose running. *Drip*

The hours of the day flew by and I did not get done absolutely NOTHING. In the end, I found myself chatting with Jeb, until he said: “i’ve got some work to do redesigning/relaunching my site (gotta walk the walk)…”

Hmm… If Jeb is doing stuff now, I might… do some stuff, too.
I still wasn´t too sure about it, so I got a glass of Pony Malta (a popular malt beer here in Colombia), sit on my couch, and reflected: “Well, you COULD just go to bed and hope for a better start tomorrow. But then, writing doesn´t hurt. It´s just words and letters. No bosses to convince of your greatness, no girls to impress… just a black screen with a green cursor, displaying the bullshit you hack into your keyboard.”

So I opened my digital diary. And started to write what happened on this day and why it sucked.
*Drip* – Yeah, that was ONE reason.

And… I noticed, I was actually DOING something.
Nothing great. Just a diary entry. But I WAS writing. Trent Hamm (from The Simple Dollar), one of my all-time writing idols, stated in a great post on creative work that he writes about pretty much anything, just to train his expression skills and to stay in shape. And here I was, writing. Training my expression skills. Walking the walk, as Jeb said.

I could as well write for an audience. For YOU. Because there was a lesson behind that, a lesson that was getting clearer and clearer to me after spending a looooong time thinking and reading about (un)productivity and stuff.

The lesson is: Just start. Stop performing trash activities, whatever they may be, and DO THE THING THAT MATTERS. Nothing big. Nothing too fancy. Just a small step. Maybe an outline, a scribble. This will do. But GET GOING.

This is THE MAGIC OF GETTING STARTED. Because once you start, you get into flow. Whatever your “thing” is, be it writing or painting or cooking or gardening or designing shoes or analyzing the political economy of Kyrgyzstan – just start. Now. The magic will happen automatically, because once you´re on it, once you´re DOING your thing, it will be developing better than you expected. If you´re writer, it might even turn out being a forum or a blog post, written on a bad day that was already lost. The magic of getting started. *Drip* – NOW.

(First posted on the P2E Unschool Forums. Photo CC-BY-SA by marksweb)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Nate November 9, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Kudos Fabian! You are certainly right about that. Sometimes the hardest part is just starting, isn’t it? I can tell you that it was certainly my problem. I always wanted change in my life, but I guess I expected it to magically appear in my life. It just doesn’t work that way. In order to make progress you have to take physical action. It took me so long to learn this. You don’t have to be perfect and there may be some failures along the way, but starting is certainly a magical thing!

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Fabian November 9, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Exactly Nate! Be it big projects or just little things on your to-do list, everything requires ONE first step, and it’s good to take it without worrying too much. Well, at least if it’s not about hitting a crack cocaine pipe… ;)

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kemai December 28, 2009 at 10:15 am

I like your writing – a lot! Finally I found the time to read your blog posts and I have not regretted it so far :) On the contrary – this is quality time first class!

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Fabian December 28, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Thanks kemai! Glad to have you here!

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