• David Verhaag

Having Trouble Getting Started?

“For a short week, it feels awfully long.” Did you hear that this week? Did you hear it more than once? In the abstract, holiday weeks are wonderful. The extra day to rest, relax, eat hot dogs, maybe have an extra beer or five. It is a long weekend after all.

In our current world of work, the joy of the long weekend prompts a wealth of aspirational commentary. “We should always have four-day workweeks!” “Employees are more productive if they work less!” Or my favorite this week, “four-day workweek or PTO, which would you rather have?”

For me, the short week feels awfully long. Maybe it was that extra beer but it can be downright painful to get started. The fundamental problem with the long weekend is that it ends. And then, it’s time to get back to work. But, Tuesday feels like Monday, Wednesday feels like Monday, Thursday feels like Monday and Friday, oh god it is still like a month away.

Here are three ways that I have found to be effective in overcoming the long weekend (work) hangover.

“The way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing.” (Walt Disney)

Disney had it right. Sometimes you just have to strap on your mouse ears and put pen to paper. I start each week by writing down my top three goals for the week. Just three and just the three things that at the end of the week I can cross out on my to-do list. Points on the board! As Disney notes, just begin doing. The simple act of writing down the top three each week is a painless way of getting started.

“The most difficult thing is to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” (Amelia Earhart)

Just do it! If only it were so easy. Writing down the top three is helpful because it creates action. After that, I force myself to keep the momentum. Amelia calls it tenacity. I call it [expletive, expletive] stuff I just [expletive] need to do. As I said, the long weekend can create a bit of a work hangover. I keep the momentum by starting small. Simple tasks that I can cross off the list. Email this person, update this account, call so and so. I write these down on my daily to-do list so I can cross them off. Energy builds in crossing off just a couple of simple items.

“You might have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” (Margaret Thatcher)

The struggle doesn’t end there though. Writing down your top three is an easy and painless way of getting started. Crossing off simple tasks on a to-do list builds momentum. But the struggle is real. And, for me at least, it lasts all [expletive] week. To keep the momentum I started, I pick my battles carefully. A short week is a great week to focus on knocking out the tactical tasks that need doing. For example, building new email campaigns, testing the new build, or updating the website. For me, it’s much harder to focus on big strategic work like evolving the product messaging or working on the roadmap for 2021. You might have to fight the motivation battle more than once to win it but if you choose your fights carefully you have a better chance of winning them.

Is it Friday yet? Holiday weeks can be wonderful. Maybe we should all work a four-day week. But before we do, we need to figure out how to ensure that we are as focused and productive as we are in the old routine of Monday through Friday. I hope these tips are helpful.

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