“Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing, but different from the day before.”
Sound familiar? Besides being lyrics from a famous Prince song, these words are also a pretty good description for procrastination.
This week’s doodle was inspired by the irreverently rude Mr Bingo, an illustrator, artist, speaker and now rapper. He gave one of the rudest, funniest and down-to-earth talks I’ve ever heard in my life at a small speaker festival in Wales in 2016. It was brilliant!
Funnily enough though, the quote I’m about to share wasn’t rude and it wasn’t funny, but it was relevant and inspirational in its simplicity.
“If you do nothing … nothing happens” – Mr Bingo
Now, “nothing” can mean literally doing nothing. Or it can mean doing things which don’t get you somewhere you really want to be. In other words, it also means doing something close to nothing. Or procrastinating.
We procrastinate for a variety of different reasons, including out of habit or fear, or because we lack the motivation, incentive or skill to do something,
Mr Bingo was sharing his personal story about how he got to be so infamous for his rudeness and his artistic ability when it comes to drawing our “private parts” and the royalty naked. It started with him wanting to produce work that mattered to him. Work that wasn’t run of the mill. Work that was different.
But being able to do work that mattered didn’t just happen. It involved him doing something. Because he realised that if he did nothing, nothing different would happen.
“Deep work is what produces things that matter in the world”
I’ve mentioned Cal Newport’s thoughts on deep work before. If you haven’t read his book yet, DO! And, for a quick intro, Ted Bauer does a good job of exploring Cal’s ideas in an article on his “Context of Things” blog.
So, how do you get from doing nothing to SOMETHING?
Here’s a few ideas:
- Break down the big dreams into bite-sized, doable, manageable chunks. That way you can start. Even if it’s a tiny move, it’s a move in the right direction, right? And movement creates momentum.
- When you’re about to start a new task, take action or behave in a certain way, ask yourself … Does this get me to where I want to go? Or is it empty or shallow work that’s keeping you in what Liam Veitch , founder of FreelanceLift, calls “Maintenance Mode”? Reduce the busy work, break the bad habits, and ramp up the meaningful stuff.
- Create a shallow work checklist to help manage those things which tend to get you stuck in the muddy wallow of procrastination. Monitor your activities and call yourself out when you’re wasting more time than you need to on emails or social media.
As Mr Bingo rightly pointed out … when we do nothing, nothing happens.
We’re all capable of doing something. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. But it needs to be more than nothing. You can start small and work from there.
So, in the vein of Prince’s girl and Mr Bingo, how about showing a bit of attitude?
Start by flipping the bird to that pit of procrastination.
Then don your raspberry beret and set your sights on the Land of Something. It’s that cool place where exciting things happen, and it’s entirely possible to get there.
But only if you do one little SOMETHING to start the process. :)