Do the Work Wednesday #2: Getting Started

by Lian on February 8, 2012

One of the most difficult aspects of writing for me is sitting down and getting starting every day. (And, I’m not talking about “writer’s block” which I believe to be an excuse, not an actual mental condition.)  But I do procrastinate daily when it comes to starting my work. I’ve set a  4- to- 5 page per day  goal for February through April. Weekends off for good behavior! And I’m happy to say that so far (this week!) I’ve hit my target. But…It’s taking me a little longer to get my tushie in the chair and get started, leaving me with less time for blogging or any other activities.

Yesterday, I spent two hours cleaning the house and folding laundry before I felt settled enough to write. I’d like to be more efficient, but maybe I need those two hours to mull, ponder, work through story in my head before committing it to paper. We’ll see. But as long as I’m sticking to my goal, I can’t beat myself up.

What do you need to do to get started to Do the Work? Do you stick to a routine? Set aside a certain time every week? Sneak in time when you get it? Let’s talk…


Embracing my Chaos, Lian



William J. February 11, 2012 at 6:12 AM

Patty S. Way to go!!!

Patty S February 10, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Show up. And just do it.

Sounds simple, right? Not hardly. But I did it!

I did my first presentation in front of about 15 people (I didn’t know any of them) on Tuesday. I thought my heart was going to come flying right out of my chest. As I realized that the attendees were actually interested in what I had to say, I loosened up and actually enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experiences with them. They had all driven at least 150 miles to hear a coworker and I walk them through a fairly complicated process.

Scarves…sad to say, I haven’t done anything on that front other than look at the Oprah site and practice tying the one that I have. But…I will be shopping this weekend!

Bill, I am glad that your mother is 98%. And while I can’t post on Wednesdays most of the time, I’m reading! What a great idea!

William J. February 10, 2012 at 6:49 AM

I did a terrible job with my goals last week. I have all sorts of excuses for being a bad goalkeeper. My Mom was ill, in the hospital, and having a difficult recovery (she is 98% now), I was ill, I started my seasonal job and so on. After making excuse after excuse I read the following quote:

““Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Life’s Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I decided I need to marry my goals and make the marriage a higher priority in my life. I plan on doing better next week. Thanks for the push to get me started.


Beckett Graham February 9, 2012 at 3:18 PM

I need to break things down into pieces small enough to fit in the 10 or 15 minute segments of time i can seize. It’s kind of amazing how 15 minute segments all add up at the end of a month. :)

This week – I am going to go through pages 1 through 10 of the grant proposal and make a list of the things I need to do/put together. (twenty pages to go… so you know what weeks 3 and 4 will be….)

Ma Schmidt February 8, 2012 at 7:03 PM

Regarding “getting started” I find I really need a LIST — this way I WON’T just do the stuff I want to do but just plow through what I HAVE TO/SHOULD do. Also, when I REALLY don’t want to do something, like paperwork or writing a proposal, I’ve often found good luck “putting it on the calendar” — so, say it’s MOnday and I have to submit some paperwork and I just don’t want to. I put it on the calendar as an “appointment” Wednesday and then enjoy NOT doing it with no guilt until Wednesday when I am OBLIGED to follow through on my calendar “contract.” I can imagine this wouldn’t work for all, but for me it seems to! It’s like it allows me to procrastinate but holds me accountable…

Today I was not wanting to go to the gym over lunch so I got online to distract myself…came here and saw that it was “do the work Wednesday” and logged off and got my butt out the door – thanks for that! I’m at least 5 pounds down and have worked out almost every day this week! ..and I had a meeting with someone who will help crunch the data for that proposal I keep putting off and I administered a “pretest” to get some data to crunch — Woo Hoo! I’m doin’ the work! Thanks for the support all! Good luck all – I love this!

Lesley in MN February 8, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about each project and all the many, many, many details. What I have learned from my husband is that I am only one person with two hands…meaning that one can only do as much as one can do (for me this means NO multitasking).

While I do fall into the same time sucks as Cyndi, focusing on only one project task at a time helps me to get started. Seeing the results of my productivity on even just writing the abstract for my paper, or responding to my co-author’s questions on a discussion section motivates me to keep going. Little successes. Persistence. Getting the work done.

Bev February 8, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Yes, now is the time to set aside Weds. a.m.’s for adding to our new
blog! I just needed to get a set time in place. Lots of ideas in my head but difficult to really sit down and put them online! Thanks for the push!

Kristin February 8, 2012 at 11:07 AM

I looked forward to this this morning when I was driving to work. This week, the epiphany I had has led to doing the work all week of letting go and being more. No more expecting myself to do it all and then some, tackling those mundane things before sitting down, being gentle with myself.

That being said, I have, this Do the Work Wednesday, spoken up at work. Making things happen won’t happen when we don’t open our mouths, stand up and speak up. I updated my webpage, added to my profile and made some more marketing calls. Going to keep doing the work to get down to one job!

Cyndi February 8, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Thought a little about the things that interfere with productive work when studying/researching for my coursework … a few conclusions:

TIME SUCK: constantly thinking about other mundane tasks that need to be done that are unrelated to the work at hand – I lose my concentration
REMEDY: just do the mundane task before even sitting down to work – it’s usually ridiculously simple and quick
TIME SUCK: not grasping the big picture and getting lost in details which may or may not be important in the end
REMEDY: when the details make no sense, always go back to the big picture – always make sure there is a big picture to start with
TIME SUCK: using too many outside sources other than the textbook to understand concepts
REMEDY: use other resources only as a backup – using too many others is actually a form of procrastination and ends up wasting time

I’d like to make the time that I study valuable so there is more time to do the things that are enriching/nourishing – social/fitness/creative pursuits.

Deanna February 8, 2012 at 9:52 AM

I absolutely LOVE the idea of ‘Do The Work Wednesday.’

I think that working in the corporate world for so many years prepared me well for prioritizing and project direction.

First, flexibility. I still struggle with being flexible and patient when it comes to unexpected situations (what used to be a server crash with ten offices offline is now spilled juice on clothes right before heading out the door for the school run). Nothing ever goes according to plan, and I’ve learned to roll with it.

Second, my project motto is ‘Do The Worst First.’ I break my to-do list down according to the least appealing project first, and tackle it head-on. If it’s early in the day, I generally have more energy than I will later on. After that, everything gets easier.

Third, routine. I have a morning and bedtime routine that I follow religiously. It cuts down on wasted time in the morning and helps me settle my mind at night and know I’m prepared for the next day. My kids even have routines, with pictures and on laminated paper so they can check tasks off as they are completed.

Fourth, use a timer. I am amazed at what I can accomplish by setting a timer for 15 minutes and promising to devote myself completely to a task for that entire time. No getting sidetracked from washing cabinets to look something up online; complete attention. It’s a tangible reminder of what ability and focus can give you.

Shary February 8, 2012 at 9:35 AM

I have a hard time getting started, too. I work better if I force myself to write before I do anything else, but sometimes my schedule gets the better of me. I understand what you mean about writer’s block being an excuse, but I do know what blocks me. It’s fear of not being able translate what I imagine onto the page, of not being up to the task. I’ve learned, though, that if I just start working, the fear goes away. I might not capture my thoughts the first time around, but I can usually edit my words into something resembling what I first imagined. Progress report on the third draft of my new novel: I think chapter one is finally finished.

Michele February 8, 2012 at 9:27 AM

I’ve decided to actually do the work to lose the 15 pounds that have been creeping up on me for the past 6 years. There! I’ve said it online, and want to be held accountable. This will mean getting my caboose out the door and walking. It’s really true that the first step is the hardest. I used to walk 3 miles several times a week, and really needed that walk to feel good. Life and apathy just sort of took over, but this is it. I’m going to do it, starting today. No need to wish me luck, because I WILL DO THIS!

Sue in NJ February 8, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Many years ago, when I was writing a book, I did set aside every morning for the research and writing. I stuck to that schedule and didn’t allow myself to procrastinate. I think deadlines have something to do with it. Now that I’m retired, have many “projects” including another book waiting for me each day, I seem to put off what I can and just add it to my list. The list gets longer, new stuff keeps coming up to distract me, and those projects just pile up. I must have been a last-minute student too. How did I ever accomplish anything?! Maybe my “Do the Work Wednesday” task should be setting a goal that I can’t wiggle out of. I’ll think about that now as I go to the gym and do my daily swim :-)

Nancy February 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Thanks for the kick in the pants! I need to go finish my newest painting…or at least put some time into it. I too, struggle with “starting.”

One thing that helps is to stop BEFORE a good stopping place.

It is much easier to finish the last bit of something that you already know how to do, than to start the next painting or the next chapter. Then, you have momentum. You are also more likely to get back to it sooner because you didn’t finish it. It’s hard to stop like that, but try it. It works.

At some point, I REALLY need to update the website I linked to. The last post was from 2007. I have several shows and awards that need to go up there.

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