How to get stuff done when you work from home OR how Woody Allen makes me do it.

I stopped working for the BBC about twelve months ago and now I work from home on a variety of projects not many of which have a fixed deadline or lead to direct remuneration (e.g. academic research).  So the daily dilemma is how to motivate myself to actually do some of the more difficult tasks.  The longer I avoid doing something, the more impossible the task seems, I quickly become demotivated and then I just feel bad for not doing the difficult stuff.

This is where Woody Allen comes in.

It may not be his funniest gag but I find myself using this quote of his every day.

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Now, it’s easy to dismiss this as naive in our modern, competitive world – get out of the seventies, Woody!  But I’m sure if you think about it you can come up with lots of examples in your own life where it’s absolutely true.

Brad Isaac has several good examples on his blog.

“For instance, did you show up at the gym today?  Just showing up means you’re 80% of the way to a good workout.  The hard part of fighting yourself to get
dressed in workout gear, dealing with traffic and the worry about pain you might experience is over.  Now all that is left is to just do the workout.  Pretty simple huh?”

So if you think about “showing up” as just opening that academic paper you’re supposed to be reading or just creating a new Keynote presentation for that lecture you’re supposed to be writing then Woody Allen is absolutely right.  Because once you’ve got over all your objections and worries about starting a task then actually doing it isn’t really so bad.

Staring at a blank screen is very uninspiring.  But staring at a page with a title where you’ve already scribbled a few notes is much easier.  80% of the job done!  Success!!

So do you agree with Woody Allen or do you have other motivational methods to get you going?


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