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Stop Procrastinating and Start Doing... Here's How

By Mark Ford, founder, The Palm Beach Research Group
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When you agreed to do it, it seemed like a wonderful challenge.
Now, your deadline is fast approaching and you haven't even started. Getting the job done is a priority, yet it somehow doesn't happen.
Instead, it stays there on your daily task list – highlighted for attention but never attended to.
What causes this pernicious process? Why does a great opportunity turn into a very big chore that turns into an overwhelming enigma that threatens to turn into The Big Job You Never Even Started?
There are all sorts of causes – but only one solution that consistently works for me...
Here it is:
1.   If you have been stuck for more than three days, you are stuck. Admit it. Stand in front of the mirror and repeat: "I shot my mouth off. I'm stuck." You have been waiting for inspiration to save you, but it hasn't appeared. Stop waiting.
2.   Change the status of the job. It was one priority among many. Now, make it No. 1 on your daily task list.
3.   Don't even think of attacking the whole mess at once. Break it up into small pieces. If it's a 40-page report you have to write, break it up into pages. If it's a bunch of people you have to talk to, think of each conversation as a separate task.
4.   Working back from your deadline, figure how many discrete units (pages, calls, etc.) you need to do each day. Then figure out how long it will take you to do that many units.
5.   If each unit can be done in less than 15 minutes, you are in luck. Give yourself the job of doing just one 15-minute task each day. If you will have to spend more than 15 minutes a day to finish, then begin – still – with 15 minutes and gradually increase your daily time commitment as you get rolling.
6.   Start immediately. Do your first 15 minutes even if you feel that what you are doing is not very good.
7.   Keep going until you break through the psychological barrier you've been up against.

The secret here is to reduce each day's work to 15 minutes. It is such a small amount of time that you won't have any trouble doing it. This will get the ball rolling, even if it doesn't seem to be rolling in the right direction.
Sooner or later – and this is guaranteed – you will get that inspiration you had been waiting for while you were stuck. And when it happens, you'll find that you've already done a good deal of the grunt work (thinking, planning, researching, whatever).
This is particularly useful when you get to the point where you don't actually like a project anymore. In that case, unless you have the discipline to hack away at it every day, you will avoid it and it will never get done.
Some days, you will want to work more than 15 minutes. That's fine. In fact, that's the idea. It means your creative mind is starting to kick in. One day – and this can happen at almost any time – you'll suddenly see the big picture and will be able to get the whole project done right. You may decide to scrap some of what you've been doing and change some of it. But from that point on, you'll work quickly and easily.
What are you waiting for? Get to it.
Mark Ford

Further Reading:

"When I feel trepidation about starting a venture, I'm not worried about something as abstract as 'failure,'" Mark writes. "I worry mainly about three things..." Learn his tips and tricks for entrepreneurship right here: The Eight-Step Plan to Overcoming Your Biggest Fears.
"Wealth building," Mark writes, "often operates according to laws that seem contrary to what is 'obvious.'" He says picking up the tab at lunch might actually make you richer. Find out why here: How Every Decision Can Make You Richer – or Poorer.

Market Notes


It has been a tough year for one of the country's most popular restaurant chains...
We're talking about Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG). The $12 billion burrito chain was once a market darling and one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the U.S. In 2015, the company generated $4.5 billion in sales – or about $2.5 million per location.
But last summer, a handful of foodborne illness outbreaks caused research firms to downgrade the company on the expectation of lower sales and rising costs for food safety and employee training.
Though the company is a well-run, high-quality business that still turns an impressive profit on a per-location basis, the scare spooked most investors. Since peaking in August, shares are down nearly 48%, and just hit their lowest level in nearly three years. Though the food-safety concerns are a nonissue to the vast majority of its customers, it's a reminder that even the best businesses suffer temporary setbacks from time to time.

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