Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the tag “action”

What Forrest Gump is Still Teaching Me

What do The Dog Whisperer and Forest Gump have in common?

Both cause reflection about how the average human’s sense and awareness of past and future can be debilitating to performance in the present (if your mind makes the random connections that mine does)

In my post, Our Simple Minds: Mind Tricks, I explored a simple view that if we remove the conscious barriers or layers between identification of the need for the action, and the action itself, then it appears that we get more done with less resistance.

Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?
Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!

If we remove the conscious resistance to the task and just do, then we’re focusing on our own drill sergeant of task completion.

What occurred to me watching The Dog Whisperer is how we as humans debilitate ourselves by carrying our baggage of history in our heads, and the blanket of stress of expectation and future fears. We bring this to bear on our treatment of dogs, and they don’t know why. They live in the now. Yes they have programmed responses, but as soon as these are removed then their only concern is the here and now. We’re the ones who often screw them up by bizarre behaviour tainted by how they were previously, or our concerns about how they’re going to respond. We miss the mindfulness of the here and now.

It’s very easy to ignore the work you should be doing when you’re rambling with something pleasurable or distracting: the reading, exploring the web, or online conversations. Most of us can lose ourselves in something for minutes if not chunks of hours.  The great thing is that we can lose ourselves in work and task completion in exactly the same way by just tricking ourselves into action. Even just reversing the above pleasurable rambling scenario would work. Rather than ignoring the work you should be doing; ignore the distractions by planning a whole days worth of reading, exploring the web, online conversations etc. etc. Then just ramble with a bit of work. Just start something knowing that you ‘should’ be reading/ surfing/ chatting etc.

The strangest thing happens: you start work without resistance. It flows until you’re a bit spent. Then you can force yourself to start ‘work’ on what you have planned to do……… just see how long it takes you to get distracted by work again though ;-)

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See /Do /Tag for Happiness in the Moment

So I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I’m pretty certain that I haven’t because it feels like it contradicts a lot of the things I’m constantly striving to achieve: focus, planning, constancy.

First, an attempt to define something. I’ve referred in previous posts to the feelings of resistance to task completion. Particularly those tasks that are either poorly defined, difficult, overly time consuming, unknown/new etc. I personally feel this resistance in the middle chest/ upper gut as a kind of heaviness.

I have posted on a number of occasions about my attempts to overcome this. Normally the approaches/ techniques I have explored have in most ways been medium/ longer term in the sense that they involve planning/ mental approaches/ chunking down the steps for the task completion etc.

What I have begun to explore more recently is whether there is a certain category of resistance that this approach does not work for. Let’s call it ‘in the flow’ resistance.

There appear to be certain thoughts, tasks or actions, usually relatively minor in nature, that my other-than-conscious throws to the surface of consciousness for my attention. Often I can immediately tag these for later action in a task list. These thoughts(actions) behave like most other non-planned-for creativity: as soon as they’re captured in a trusted system they go away from my mind, and don’t weigh on my chest to be handled.

However, there are certain actions that appear to sit there on my chest and refuse to budge. They create this ‘in the flow’ resistance. It feels like someone else has made a decision that, regardless what else I was consciously planning – or, indeed, regardless of what my initial conscious response is to the action raised – this is the thing I should do. Right here, right now.

The interesting things are:
1. If I don’t do them immediately, the resistance that I can sometimes get (as described above) is felt – often very intensely – even though it is not something I had consciously raised
2. If I do take the action, it feels as though I get disproportionate reward. As though I didn’t realize how important it was to me internally until it was done
3. The actions are very often things (for me) which relate to commitments. To myself and others. As though my other-than-conscious is reminding, but refusing to go ‘on to snooze’

The Revelation of Micro Task Planning and Thinking?

Life in Detail 2 by Nate Brelsford

Life in Detail 2 by Nate Brelsford


I was struck today by the power of planning. Not planning of your life goals: the goal setting and vision lifeblood of success. No: micro planning of the very task that you’re just about to do.

I think we’re so used to what we know how to do; our routines and our learnt ways of doing things. We probably know how to do most things that we come upon in our average work day. We think we know the ‘best ways’ of doing most of the things that we do on a daily/ weekly and monthly basis.
It’s interesting that when ‘cost’ or ‘efficiency’ consultants go into businesses, the things that would need to change to optimise a process are so simple; and afterwards so obvious. The ‘way we do it’ in both personal and business life becomes so ingrained we often don’t even think to think. And we rarely challenge it.


Blockers feel like they arise in our ability to achieve new things or do new tasks because:

1.       Confidence is sometimes an issue

2.       We are unused to thinking (or stopping to think)

3.       We are unused to intelligently planning on a practical basis

It feels like we are so built to be responsive [link to article] that we are destined to respond poorly to new situations because of this lack of micro-planning.

What do I mean by micro-planning? I’m thinking about:

·         Taking a short period of time to brainstorm the elements of the task you need to do

·         Thinking about a realistic sequence

·         Resources

·         Restraints

·         Other people

·         Timeframes

But most importantly, taking the time to think…

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