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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Slow start, start slow

Beginning is always the most difficult. Procrastination is a horrible sin that we all commit (to greater or lesser extent), and one of the main reasons for my own personal indulgence is that I am often daunted by the sheer size and magnitude of the boring task(s) at hand. When I first look at it, it looks like a mountain that I really do not want to climb, and when I try to climb it and reach to the top in one rapid go, I always end up saying to myself, ‘Nah…. couldn’t be bothered. Let’s do this next time.’ Task(s) which should have been completed long ago hence form a backlog in my schedule, which usually takes a whole load of time to clear up at a future, less inconvenient occasion, and this usually occurs when I am absolutely forced by external circumstances to do it, or I would probably leave it indefinitely.

How, then, do we conquer this bad habit of putting things off and leaving them till the last minute when we cannot put them off any longer? I know of no secret that works for everyone but recently I have discovered a way that seems to have worked quite well for me in that I seem to have managed to get more things done of late. It is to start slow, and when I say ‘slow’, I really do mean ‘slow’ i.e. as slow as you possibly can. Whenever I undertake a bitch of a task which has to be done but I absolutely do not want to do it, I am so disinterested in it that I just want to finish it in one go and be done with it forever, which, as explained above, often prolongs my procrastination. Now, however, I tell myself not to try to do it all in one go but rather aim to do it as slowly and as inefficiently as I possibly can (literally snail speed). It may seem annoying at first when I think, ‘I am going to be here for hours/it is going to be a long day’, but when I gradually get into it, my system begins to get used to this seemingly impossible and boring task and it suddenly feels much less strenuous. My efficiency then picks up, and the more I get done, the more encouraged I get at getting the rest of it done. Eventually I reach the stage where I cannot stop until I get all of it done, since not only am I fully adapted to the task(s) at hand, I am also masochistically (!) rather enjoying it. This is when I hit full speed as I am truly on top of the boring task(s) at hand and I aim to sign them off on a final flourish.

Things that need to be done have to get done sooner or later (and we often prefer ‘later’ to ‘sooner’), and while these tasks are never enjoyable (or easy), what starts off as a horrible and laborious undertaking may turn out to be pure enjoyment. This is the stage where we are truly on top of our lives and our energy will guide us to overcome all obstacles that stand in our way. The key (for me at least) is to aim for a slow start and start slow i.e. as slow as you possibly can. At the beginning of undertaking a task, we must feel free to take as much time and liberty as we like to really drag things out, and once our body and system click into gear, we will become unstoppable and may even not be able to stop or slow down when we are moving at full-speed. Slow start, start slow. Don’t give up.

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