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« Action versus Activity | Main | Keeping Going »


Have you ever wondered why it is that some people have the greatest difficulty just staying on top of everyday life, while other people seem to be capable of doing the most amazing amount in a very short period of time? It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with techniques, more like a fundamental capability to make the most of every moment.

Most of my life I’ve been firmly in the first category. One of the most upsetting things about the second category, the achievers, is that they seem not just to be able to get much more out of work but they seem to be able cram many more enjoyable activities into their leisure time as well. That just isn’t fair!

One of my great heroes as a schoolboy was Julius Caesar, and the more I’ve learned about him since the more remarkable he seems. One doesn’t have to approve of his methods or political ambitions to be amazed at the amount he achieved. During his lifetime he was renowned for his celeritas, a Latin word meaning “speed” or “quickness”. Time and time again he would act so quickly that his opponents were caught completely unawares.

The flip side of this was that he would sometimes act compulsively or rashly and get himself into difficulties as a result. But no one was better than he was at getting himself out of the difficulties again — by the effectiveness and speed of the measures he took to extricate himself.

You can use this principle of celeritas in your own life. To do so, simply practise working a little bit faster than you usually do. And move a little bit faster than you usually do.

This is remarkably effective, because if you move faster than normal you don’t give yourself time to think all your normal procrastinating thoughts. If you are moving fast, you don’t think “I’ll do that later” or “I really don’t want to do that” — you just do it!

Try it for a short period to start with. Set a timer for 20 minutes and just go all out to do as much work of any kind that you can in that 20 minutes. Don’t spend time thinking what to do next. Just get on with whatever comes to hand.

You may be very surprised at how much you achieve. And you may also be very surprised to find that instead of being tiring, it is very energising to act in this way.

Reader Comments (2)

Nice Post. I have a degree in classical subjects and when I prepared my dissertation in Roman Studies I read a lot about Caesar. I was also impressed by his Celeritas, a personal quality (the other one being his "Fortuna") that made him the historical character we all know.
April 16, 2007 at 13:57 | Unregistered CommenterMassimo from Italy
I don't agree that you're in the first category.
April 6, 2010 at 0:49 | Unregistered CommenterMel

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