Bernie Anderson
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Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Newton's Law of "Punch it in the Face" (How to beat procrastination)

Let's play a little game of the $20,000 Pyramid.
(If you know what this is, you you aged yourself. As I have done in bringing it up.)

Ready? Go.

  • Mowing the lawn.
  • Taxes.
  • Editing photos.
  • Starting the Spring garden.
  • The expense report.
  • Writing a Novel.

If you said: "Things you procrastinate" - you're a winner!

If you said "things Bernie is currently procrastinating," (sadly) you'd also be a winner.

Except for "mowing the lawn." The only reason I'm not procrastinating on the lawn is that I don't have a lawn. I live in a condo and we have yard people for that. Otherwise, I would be procrastinating on the first lawn mowing of the year (yes, I live in the South).

This morning I am wondering why procrastination is an issue on some things and not others? Sure, there are some obvious reasons why certain things get put off until the last minute.

Fear

There may be fear about things like taxes and novels. Can I cut it? Will I have to pay? Is there something under this giant, scary stack of receipts I forgot about? Fear could be a possibility.

Boredom

Expense reports could fall into this category. Maybe it's the tedious work of editing photos. Perhaps I am putting off dull monotony.

Dislike

Makes sense. I don't actually enjoy doing expense reports and taxes.

Here is the problem. None of the things on my current procrastination list entirely fit into these categories. Some might. But there are things like novel writing, gardening, and photo editing which I enjoy. I'm not afraid of my taxes, because I'm confident I'll get money back. Same with the expense report. That's cash in my pocket.

Why am I procrastinating?

It has to do with the physics. Newton's first law.

Inertia.

An object will stay at rest forever, as long as nothing pushes or pulls on it.

The one thing every item on my list has in common is the need for force. Starting energy. I must push or pull on this project to get it moving.

Punch it in the face. I was talking to a friend and colleague about a project neither of us wanted to start. At the end of our conversation, he said it was time to "punch it in the face." That was his way of exerting force on the project to get it moving. To start.

Once the project is moving, the second part of Newton's law inertia also proves true.

An object in motion will stay in motion ... until something pushes or pulls on it.

A certain amount of energy or force must be used to get a thing started.

Friction along the way can slow a project down and keep it from getting completed. Like the hard work required to lay out a proper story for the novel. Or having to look up account numbers for the expense report.

The way to beat procrastination is to know the energy required to start. And to recognize the force necessary to keep the thing moving to completion.

Then, with that knowledge, put "the thing" on the calendar.

And punch it in the face.

 Inertia (Applied in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam)

Inertia (Applied in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam)