Mind Like Water


Even though the practice seems very effective, there are more ways to battle procrastination than tricking yourself into doing productive activities. I am always trying to figure out why I am procrastinating in the first place, which is probably just another way that I procrastinate. But trying to stop the root cause of the procrastination could be very helpful and is worth thinking about. David Allen in Getting Things Done says that you need to determine what your next action is in order to move forward with a project and mobilize yourself.

By “next action”, he means the very next physical thing you need to do in order to get done what you want to get done. He suggests that you should be constantly performing these next actions as you go throughout your day. If you have setup your GTD system well enough, then you can trust your system to cover everything you need to get done and focus on purely doing the task at hand.

This action can not be something like “figure out what presents I need to buy” or anything vague like that. It has to be “write down the names of people to buy presents for and what presents to get them.” When you actually think about a physical action, it makes tasks seem much more simple and achievable. This way of thinking also helps you avoid procrastination because the tasks that need to be done do not seem as painful as they first appeared to be. A similar benefit comes from mindfulness. If you focus on the act of hearing the sounds around you. Or if you focus on how it feels to breathe in and then breathe out. Or if you think about what your posture is like right at this moment. And if you think of nothing else, problems seem much easier to solve.

David Allen somewhat references mindfulness when he says that he wants his system to help people achieve a “mind like water”. The water in a still pond responds to a pebble thrown into it with the exact force that it needs to. The water then returns to stillness. The ultimate goal of his Getting Things Done system is for the user to neither under-react or overreact to anything that comes up in life. The quote from Mindfulness in Plain English that I posted a few weeks ago states almost exactly the same thing. “A problem arises and you simply deal with it, quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of fuss.”

Photo courtesy of laszlo-photo 

Leave a comment