“Do An Easier Version of it”

is something that I try to convince myself to do when I’m having a hard time getting the things I want done accomplished at all. It’s not quite the same, but sort of the same, as breaking up a large task into smaller task, or in GTD-speak, it’s not quite the same as recognizing that some tasks are actionable but some are actually projects that contain their own actions. Whatever.

The idea is that I’ve taken a goal or project or plan and I’ve decided to do it, so I’ve inserted it into my system, broken it up into actionable items, etc. but for some reason I’m still not doing it.

One thing I want to be doing is daily meditation. I tried out Headspace and found it useful but difficult. Once the free part ran out I didn’t feel like paying for it because even the easiest level was kind of difficult. But what I noticed is that while ten minutes of meditation is obviously more useful than five minutes, I’m more likely to actually convince myself to do it if it’s five minutes.

For about a month now I’ve had “five minutes meditation” in Omnifocus as a daily repeating task and I think I’ve checked it off, instead of leaving it for the next day, a total of twice. So I thought about how much more likely I was to do five minute than ten minutes, and I thought about how the meditative practice in the way I’m seeking to actually practice it is really about reminding yourself to be more aware of all things by having a special time just to focus on that awareness. So, you know, thirty seconds of this kind of meditation per day is actually still going to be providing a benefit.

In practice I’ve found that I can give myself a 100% guarantee that if I tell myself “you should meditate for 60 seconds”, then I will actually do it. I’ve decided to think that this is a lot more valuable than a 90% guarantee that I’ll do it for any other space of time.

And the part that makes me not want to do it is that it’s difficult. I can keep my mind from wandering for a minute easily. I cannot easily keep my mind from wandering for two minutes. The frustration of attempting to meditate every day and “catching myself” failing is what convinces someone with my personality that it’s not worth doing at all.

So Do An Easier Version Of It.

Everyone I’ve read has suggested to me that starting for shorter times is the way to go about this, but their ideas of “short” times are usually ten minutes. I don’t want to do a slightly easier version of it, I want to do a version of it so easy that I will succeed almost accidentally.

This post wasn’t supposed to be about meditation, it was supposed to be about Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, of which “do an easier version of it” could be one. I was thinking about taking OS and trying to apply it to productivity. But I’m not going to rewrite this post because “posting a hastily-written unedited post” is my easier version of “post a post”.

I’m using an app called Due to time my meditations. I started at one minute, and I’ve been adding one second every day. One minute is so easy I can’t fail. One second added per day is so easy I can’t not laugh. I won’t be up to the ten-minute-long Headspace-sized sessions for over two years from now, which is hilarious, but I don’t care, and I can already feel how good it is for me to tell myself to do something and then actually get to watch myself do it.

P.S. Follow the podcast on twitter: @andstuffpodcast

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One Response to ““Do An Easier Version of it””

  1. heidenkind Says:

    Ten minutes to meditate does seem like a long time.

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