Task Ninja: Form the Action Habit

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

A lot of us get stuck in inaction –procrastinating, doing a lot of unimportant tasks to avoid the important stuff, worrying about failing or about being perfect, having a hard time starting, getting distracted, and so on.

It’s time to start forming the Action Habit instead.

And it’s really not that hard if you focus on it for a little while. Like any other habit, start in small doses, little tasks, just short bursts, and then build on that momentum.

Some quick steps for forming the Action Habit:

1. Figure out your key actions. Focusing on the right actions is just as important as the doing. Don’t spend a lot of time in this step — just quickly decide your Top 3 actions for today.

2. Pick one key action, and visualize the outcome. How will it look when you’re done? Again, don’t spend a lot of time here — just form a quick picture in your mind.

3. Just start. Tell yourself, “Do it now!” Make it a mantra. Don’t mess around with tools, with distractions, with anything that will get in the way of doing this task. Strip away everything but the task, and get going!

4. Focus on the moment. Just be in this task, don’t worry about the future or what mistakes you might make or might have made before. Just focus on doing this task, as best you can. Immerse yourself in it.

5. Get to done. Complete the task. Feel good about it! Pat yourself on the back!

Now repeat with the next task. The more you practice this habit, the better you get. Do it in small doses, and keep practicing. You’ll fail sometimes. See the next section for how to deal with that. But don’t let failure stop you — just practice some more.

Barriers to the Action Habit

But what if you’re having trouble actually taking action? Some quick thoughts:

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