A few weeks ago I asked you all a question. “What do you struggle with most?” I received so many responses, varying in a wide range of topics. One email in particular stood out to me. It was from Tim, someone I have exchanged a few emails with before. It went a little something like this.
I got your email a few days ago, and I’ve been going over it the entire weekend (whilst waiting for my Big Screen TV to arrive from, you guessed it, black Friday shopping!), and I realized, the one thing I’ve always struggled with, from my teenage years into my adult life, is procrastination.
I set such high goals for myself, and make them almost impossible to accomplish because they can be so lofty. Tim Ferris wrote about the importance of setting goals and high expectations above the average person. when you no longer settle for the mediocre, and aim higher, you eliminate most of the competition. Or something along those lines, apparently I need to reread the 4 hour work week, but I’ve been procrastinating too much!! SEE!??
Over the summer I wrote to you out of inspiration, having recently discovered your amazing site and stories. You wrote back a great inspirational email that was heartfelt and genuine, and I procrastinated emailing you back. Shortly after, I received your article ‘i’ll stop procrastinating tomorrow‘. Great stuff!! and yet here I am, still setting lofty goals for myself, not accomplishing as much in the time I give myself, and then putting so much on the back burner out of frustration (example: I’ve been saying I’ll paint my room for over 2 years. buckets of paint and tools are literally collecting dust in my room).
Not to say that I haven’t progressed, when I wrote to you i had just quit my job in nightlife to find something more fulfilling, and that allowed me a more human lifestyle, as well as the chance to accomplish more in my personal life. I’ve since gotten a position at a great restaurant in Soho as AGM, the hours are easier, and I’m able to focus more on working out (Insanity:Asylum!!!) and eating healthier (free food, mgmt has its perks).
But still, it’s a constant struggle. Be it getting my finances in order, finally planning that trip to Thailand I’ve been talking about for years, becoming a personal trainer and starting a business, to the simpler things…
Keep up the great work Justin, I continue to read your blog and be inspired every day (as well as forward the girlfriend articles, she loves them, but has the same issues lol).
I want to thank Tim for writing such a heartfelt, genuine, and honest email to me. One of the reasons I started writing was to work on one of my own personal weaknesses, that being placing more emphasis on connecting with others. So far it’s going well 🙂 Thanks all. Tim touched on a lot in here but when I wrote him back I wanted to focus on one thing. The fact that he had been telling himself he would paint his room for the past 2 years but never seemed to get around to it.
My thinking was that this was a simple task he could easily get started on and learn some things about getting started and holding himself accountable for future use with more difficult tasks. This was my response to Tim
I want you to do me a favor. By this saturday 10AM pacific standard time (I’m in California) I just want you to take your paint brush, paint can, go into the room and put one single paint stroke on the wall. Anywhere and any size will do, just one stroke. Take a picture of it and send it to me. After you do it I will ask you a question.
Feel free to do the single stroke anytime before Saturday and then send a picture. But saturday is the deadline.
Needless to say that Saturday at 11:16AM I received this email from Tim.
So one swipe of paint ended up being an entire wall. Take a look at the before and after pics!
What the hell happened? How’d he do it?
How awesome is that!? I was super stoked that he finally finished this project but I had to ask him after two years of trying telling himself he was going to paint his room why now – all of a sudden was he able to step up and get the job done?
So I sent Tim an email asking him just that. Why was this time any different. His response below.
Part of it was it turned into a task I was given, and didn’t want to disappoint. The other part was just once I was started, I felt I needed to finish it with no excuses. Glad you like the pictures dude, figured I’d make it fun lol
Using the “TIM method” to help you with any challenge, goal, or just to use for help to get you started
That’s right, I’ve decided forever to dub this “The Tim Method” for getting sh*t done. Let’s even coolify it by giving it an acronym, TTM to GSD. So what exactly is it and how can you get started, hold yourself accountable, and get stuff done starting……now!
1. Recruit the help of others I’ve found that most of us have no problem letting ourselves down but when it comes to letting others down, that is when we run into big time problems. So it only makes sense to ask for help if you are struggling with a certain task. Ask a friend, family member, significant other, anyone really to be your accountability partner. You can even exchange services and hold them accountable for something while they are doing the same for you. Tim said it himself, the fact that he was given a task by someone else created an environment in which he knew that if he did not achieve it he would be letting me down.
2. Shrink the change Lets say you want to write a book or start training for a marathon. Trying to write the entire book in a week or run an entire marathon your first day into training not only is probably not going to happen but can seem overwhelming and keep you from getting started. How about dedicating your time to writing 1,000 words a day or jogging a mile on day one? With Tim I gave him the homework assignment of just putting one single brush stroke on his bedroom wall. That was it and he had a week to do it. This accomplished two things.
a. If all he did was just put the single brush stroke any nothing else he would have accomplished the task, started the project, and made some progress. This all adds up to success. Tim would have built some momentum.
b. It just got him started. The task was so small and easy that if he did not perform it would probably made most of us say “what a lazy bum, all he had to do was one single brush stroke.” I’m just teasing Tim 🙂 But seriously, the task was so small and so simple that it made it seem less daunting. Once Tim found himself in the room and already started he thought to himself, “Hell, I’m here and already started. Might as well finish the job.”
3. Set a hard time line Give yourself or have someone else give you homework A strict deadline for when the task is due. Be specific. In this case it was Noon on the following Saturday.
4. Be specific about what you want to accomplish We all want to get more out of life. But what does that actually mean? Define it and be specific. What does getting more out of life mean to you. Does it mean being your own boss and having more freedom in the work environment. Does it weight training a minimum of three days a week and performing some interval sprints twice a week?
How are you suppose to get to your destination if you don’t know where you going? Define it as clearly as possible.
5. Focus on one thing at a time It’s fine and dandy to be a highly ambitious person with tons of goals and dreams. Most of us are really good at setting goals but not so good at achieving them. Figure out which one is most important to you right now. Put the other goals into a box, notebook, or whiteboard titled “on the horizon.” If you want to make it fun write them all on a piece of paper and put them in a treasure chest. Once you accomplish one you can pick at random from the treasure chest and start to work on the next.
100% of your effort, concentration, and dedication on one task is better than trying to spread that 100% over the course of five.
6. You don’t need motivation. You need accountability and consistency Motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes. Even when you are highly motivated it usually last for only a little and shows up in spurts. Instead of searching for motivation instead find accountability and consistency. In this case if Tim only did that one brush stroke it would have been a success. If he would have emailed me and told me he only did that one single brush stroke I would have given him another task of one single brush stroke. Eventually he would have been finished.
I know what you’re thinking… “That would take forever.” You’re right. But he head two years to put one single brush stroke down and he didn’t. One single brush stroke sure beats doing nothing in my book.
7. Make it fun It was fun for Tim because it was a challenge. There are a millions ways to make anything fun. If exercise isn’t fun for you think of ways to make it fun. What are you interested in that keeps you active. One thing I always hear is I don’t like to cook. Make it fun. I combine some good tunes and the company of others while I do it. Droppin it like its hot makes anything fun. ya dig me 😉
8.Get immediate feedback and give yourself a reward If fat loss is a goal of yours some immediate feedback you would be able to get for your efforts is the rush of endorphins after a good workout or a feeling of being less bloated and the shrinking of your waist. Make sure you track your progress with any task. Keep a journal, create your own spreadsheet, or ask for another person to give you some feedback. You can download the resolution chart from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project if you need a bit of help.
Don’t forget to reward yourself for your hard work. Maybe that new bathing suit from dropping some inches, or glass of red wine for staying Paleo for the month. Find a reward that works for you.
Where do you go from here
Habits are what drive human beings. Where you are right now in your life is an cumulation of all the habits that you have. What can you start doing today to practice daily discipline and get on the path of achieving more in your life and accomplishing all of your dreams? Comment below or shoot me an email with your thoughts.
Take out that list of yours. Decided what is really important on it and just get started. Hopefully the tips above will come in handy.