Do it today, start small

Just like with all things, continuing to create the work you make can become tiresome. You go through phases, and sometimes, you just don’t want to. Coming back to the practice can be hard – just making a start on something can be hard.

A little like cleaning the bathroom and unpacking the dishes, you know you’re going to have to do it at some point (even if you leave it a really long time), but when you’re not in the mood, it appears like a mountainous, unpleasant task before you.

Today, commit yourself to do one small thing that you’ve been putting off.

And like that, you begin.

It’s easy to give yourself the whole task, to look ahead at the many large and uncomfortable processes you might need to go through to complete the work you need to do. It’s easy to suck in every obstacle and see it as not-doable. But the trick isn’t to organise your life in micro goals until you reach your desired enlightening moment – it’s to do each small thing with pleasure, or awareness, or inquisitiveness. The trick is to keep it small.

We’re taught to think big, aim high and strive to achieve. The truth is: you simply can’t achieve anything without starting with one small task.

It can be difficult to choose something to do – perhaps you have 18 small tasks that could be done today. But choose one you must, and just the act of saying ‘I’m going to tackle this today’ will bring with it a sense of relief.

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Here are my suggestions to get things started today:

1. Take a comfortable seat and sit quietly for two minutes. Close your eyes and just breathe in and out.

2. Write a list of five tasks that are on your mind.

3. Choose one to three of them that you’d like to get done today.

4. Rank them in order of importance (remember – don’t just choose the easy ones first, it’s actually easier in the long run to tackle the hardest tasks first, especially if you catch them in your first two hours of the day after breakfast!)

5. Set a timer for between 20minutes – 1 hour and begin your task. Knowing that the timer is running will help you keep focus and remind you that it’s not an endless task that stretches out eternally before you!

6. Work slowly and attentively. Bring your attention to the literal actions of doing the work. Turn your phone to silent, close all your other windows if you’re using a computer, don’t graze on snacks, just be there with the work for the time you set.

7. When the timer rings, take a break. Drink some tea slowly or talk with a friend.

8. If you completed your task, move on to the next using the same process. You might need to leave the first task and you switch to something else if you’ve run into a problem or are finding something difficult to process. The time away from it will give it space to breathe.

9. Take another break and do something different. If you’re a painter, listen to a podcast or some music, if you’re a dancer, sit still. Be as mindful with your rest time as you are with your work time. Fill your creative well with something other than you usually do.

10, Sleep well! No screens before bed, a good routine and early bedtime will help you get the rest you need for your brain to perform at it’s best when you begin the next day.

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