Are you struggling to get started at something you mean to do? Is there something holding you back from taking the first step? This question could apply to many situations in life or to your fitness journey specifically.
Fear of the unknown is a big block to getting to where you want to be but procrastination is often the biggest culprit of all. Procrastination is the most common cause of poor productivity in the workplace, at home and generally in life. Procrastination can prevent us from achieving our goals or even starting on the path towards them.
And understandably so, as procrastination is easy. The definition of procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. Or more literally, it is the lack of action to start something.
It is this lack of action or motion that makes it feel so difficult to get started on something new. In his New York Times bestselling book Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, author James Clear talks about how procrastination is actually a fundamental law of the universe. He says: “Objects at rest tend to stay at rest.”
He uses the analogy of Newton’s Laws of Motion to understand the effect of procrastination and ways in which to break it in order to increase productivity and improve your life. In a nutshell, Newton’s first law of motion describes how an object at rest tends to remain at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion.
Rest represents procrastination and motion represents a habit. Once you can break the cycle of procrastination and get in motion you can establish a new habit that then becomes your norm to carry you towards the accomplishment of your goal.
Clear goes on to make the comparison that when it comes to productivity, it means that the most important thing is getting started. Once you are in motion, it will be easier to stay in motion.
So the big question is, how do you get in motion? How do you get started?
The answer is to begin by taking small steps. Even just take one step. Or use the 2-Minute Rule.
What’s the 2-Minute Rule?
Here’s how the 2-Minute Rule works …
Part 1 – if it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.
This part of Clear’s 2-Minute Rule originally comes from David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done.
If you think about it, it’s amazing how many things we put off doing that we could get done in two minutes or less. For example, sending an email, replying to a text, putting the washing in the washing machine, taking out the rubbish, doing the washing up straight after a meal, and so on.
So the rule is, if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, do it straight away without hesitation.
Part 2 – when you start a new habit it should take less than two minutes to do.
This part might sound a bit odd as obviously not all your goals can be achieved or tasks accomplished in under two minutes. It definitely takes longer than two minutes to establish a new habit. However, every goal or task can be started in two minutes or less.
This could sound like a very simplistic strategy for larger life goals, as opposed to your everyday household chores such as taking out the rubbish, but the idea is that it works because of the law of motion that we already mentioned earlier.
Basically, once you start doing something it is easier to continue doing it. So to overcome procrastination you need to find a way to start your task in less than two minutes.
The idea isn’t that you have to finish your task within two minutes, in fact, you don’t even have to work on the primary task at hand. However, thanks to Newton’s first law of motion, you’ll often find that once you start the first two minute task, it is much easier to keep moving and then complete the larger task.
For example, you may not feel like going for a run but if you put your running shoes on and fill up your water bottle that small start might be enough to get you out the door.
Or you might be sitting staring at a blank screen right, struggling to write your article but if you write random sentences for a couple of minutes, then you may just find that useful sentences start to appear on the page.
Motivation often comes after starting a task so finding a way to start, however small the step or whatever it might be, is key. Remember, objects in motion tend to stay in motion.
Another example … you complete the two minute task that you have been putting off for quite some time and pick up the phone and call the gym. You book an appointment to go in for a consultation. Part 1 accomplished!
You go along to the gym for the consultation and because you’ve signed up and committed you go back again. You have put things in motion to start a new habit. Then you go back again … and again. And before you know it you are in full swing and heading towards achieving your fitness goals.
Taking the first step and picking up the phone was probably the hardest part of the process but once you had taken that small step the rest became easier, and as time wears on the habit you have formed becomes just a part of your lifestyle.
Newton’s first law of motion and James Clear’s 2-Minute Rule are the perfect way to think about starting a fitness or weight loss journey but they can be applied to any area of your life. Once you start thinking about being in motion rather than at rest and using the 2-Minute Rule strategy you will find yourself procrastinating less and achieving more.
It all boils down to mindset and changing your mindset can be hard but once you’ve done that you are set to achieve success and accomplish any goal you set for yourself. And remember doing something is better than doing nothing, so take that first step, however small, and you will already be on your way to forming a new habit.
To find out more about how to stop procrastinating using the “2-Minute Rule” check out James Clear’s book https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits or his blog on The Physics of Productivity: Newton’s Laws of Getting Stuff Done.