Starting Hard vs. Starting Easy

By December 11, 2016Uncategorized

If you haven’t caught one of my previous posts on the subject yet, I believe deeply in the idea of just starting. It’s the first part of a simple formula. Starting + consistency = results. We’ll talk about what to do with those results towards the end of the month, but now the question is, how do you start?

There’s a saying by Mark Twain, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that’s probably the worst thing you’ll have to do all day.” Basically, do the hardest thing you have to do on any given day first and then go down the list in reverse order, leaving the easiest tasks for last.

Then I read this blog post by Michael Hyatt, recommending that you do the easiest task first. For some of the very same reasons that I stated in my first post, in regards to forcing myself to write a post every day in December, Mr. Hyatt states that it’s about starting (Motion), getting some quick wins (Emotion) and Momentum.

In the end I think whether you tackle the most difficult task first or the easiest task first depends on a few factors.

  1. The size of the project. This could mean complexity or time, but if you have a massive project in front of you starting with a few quick wins and getting the ball rolling is a good strategy.
  2. Your expertise. Are you the expert? Kick ass! Dig in and knock out the hardest thing first.
  3. The scope of your day. What do you have on your plate for the rest of the day? Is a 3pm meeting looming that could go over, leaving you little time at the end of your day for a big-think project or do you at least need one cup of coffee under your belt.  Plan around your day. In fact plan the night before if you can.
  4. Your level of motivation. Some days you wake up ready to kill it; ready to take on the world. Don’t lose that magical momentum. It’s a gift, don’t waste it on easy tasks that will still be there after you’ve run your brain through the ringer.

With this blog I decided to start easy and ramping up the difficulty as days go by. Sending out the first string of emails, posting on Instagram and Twitter, all starting this week. The things that I’m definitely less comfortable with, than writing a few hundred words on strategies and learnings that have worked for me. I needed the momentum of starting and the backlog of content to feel like those things would be more successful, whether that’s true or not.

On the other hand, when I was working on a new feature for the website at my last job, I would often start by making a prototype of the most complex functionality as a placeholder, feeling like if I could get that piece working first, everything else would simply fall into place after that. If I couldn’t quite get it working I would then shift to easier tasks, and often times the roadblock I hit would become clear as I tinkered mindlessly. I like to call this the Don Draper effect.

“Just think about it, deeply, and then forget it. An idea will…jump up in your face.” – Don Draper

Of course, if I still had issues, then I could always reach out for help.

And, even though I shouldn’t have to state it again, I will. It doesn’t matter which path you decide to take as long as you just start.

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