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« Celeritas | Main | A Rest from the Diet »
Thursday
Apr122007

Keeping Going

Here’s an old rule that I came across many years ago… and it still works!

The rule is “When you take a break, always take it in the middle of a task, not at the end.”

This is exactly the opposite of the way we usually work. We work away at something until we come to a “natural break” or an end point and then stop. The problem with this is that it is often very difficult to get going again. The five-minute tea break become half an hour and when we finally drag ourselves back to our desks it is with a great lack of enthusiasm. We have to make a huge effort to even pick up the next bit of paper. (If this description doesn’t ring any bells with you, then don’t bother to read the rest of this post!)

Stopping at a natural break is almost always the worst thing we can do. Why? Because our mind registers that we have finished. And once our mind registers something as finished it likes it to stay that way. Starting something new is hard work.

But if you always take your breaks in the middle of something, your mind will be raring to get going again. It has registered what you are doing as incomplete and your mind hates incompletions. And often you will find that, after the break is over and you start work again, your mind has progressed in the meantime.

When you come to the end of something it is very natural to say to yourself “Thank goodness that’s over! Let’s take a break!” But instead try saying “I’ll just start the next thing first”. Very often you will find that you have finished a whole series of “next things” before you actually get round to that break!

Reader Comments (2)

How true! Having just finished an enormous drawing that took about twelve hours I retired to the sofa with a cup of tea and a book for 'half-an-hour'.

Now I'm back at my desk and wondering what to tackle next, but not feeling much enthusiasm, hence coming to your site for some inspiring thoughts.

I'd better get on with it really. By the way, it's the first time I've posted a comment, but have read and still refer to 'Get Everything Done' and visit the site at times like this. Thanks Mark!
April 13, 2007 at 19:26 | Unregistered CommenterRachael
In knitting this is referred to as Single Sock Syndrome.
September 21, 2010 at 22:43 | Unregistered CommenterCricket

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