Start chopping, already!


Abraham Lincoln famously said that if he has six hours to chop down a tree, he would spend four hours sharpening the ax. Or something like that. His point, of course, was that taking time to prepare before you do a job will make that job easier and the results better.

Okay, we all get that. But sometimes, we use “preparation” as an excuse to procrastinate.

“I’m not ready,” “I need to do more research,” “I need to think about it a bit longer,” we say. Too often, we never start.

Starting isn’t nearly as important as finishing but it’s a close second because you can’t complete a task you never start.

So start, before you’re ready. In the end, you’ll get more done.

If you make mistakes and have to fix them, if you mess up and have to start over, if you have to admit defeat and abandon the project, you’ll still get more done.

Now, I’m not saying don’t prepare. That would be silly. I’m saying don’t over-prepare. Wherever possible, do only as much preparation as you need to start.

Maybe you don’t need a week to do research before you begin. Maybe an hour will let you get rolling. If you find you need more, you can do more. But at that point, you’ll know more about the project and that might make the additional research go faster or be more useful.

Of course, you might find that one hour was all you needed.

If you have big, overwhelming projects, break them up into smaller parts, things you can do in a few minutes, an hour or two. Start those, and finish them, so you’ll be able to start and finish something else.

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