Basketball by Andrew Fortnum from The Noun Project

Basketball by Andrew Fortnum from The Noun Project

NBA athlete Kobe Bryant doesn’t leave the court until he sinks a couple hundred shots each day. Similarly, creative professionals must consistently practice their craft to stay at the top of their game. But how can we get unstuck from the occasional procrastination that keeps us from practicing?

43 Folders creator Merlin Mann shares his advice: select a modest goal for the day, just to get the ball rolling. He calls this “dashes,” and he identifies three types:

Time-based dash – Most jobs lend themselves to a time-based dash, so pick up a kitchen timer at your local drugstore. Choose an amount of time that gives you enough room to do something but that’s brief enough to seem completely unintimidating.

Unit-based dash – Alternatively, depending on the tasks you’ve been avoiding, you could go with a unit-based dash, during which you agree to plow through an arbitrary number of pieces associated with your project (such as pages to read, words to write, glasses to wash, etc.).

Combination dash – In many cases, the best solution is a combination dash, in which you get to stop the hated work whenever you reach either the time or unit goal first.

Another NBA athlete, Ed Macauley, once famously said: “When you’re not practicing, remember that someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win.” Its imperative that we practice consistently – every day, even. And as Seth Godin wrote for us a while ago, you can’t wait until you’re in the mood to practice; you have to do it regularly.

Read Mann’s full piece on running a dash to kick procrastination’s ass, over at 43 Folders.

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