A simple strategy for getting active

Choose and list 3 simple activities to get you going. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

If you’re stuck in inactivity, and want to move from nothing to something, get a piece of paper out, and a pen.  Write on it: ‘Now’.  Then, below that, write 1, 2 and 3 on separate lines.  Like this:


Then write, against the number 1, one thing that you can do that takes only a short time.  It could be washing up a plate, emptying a bin, anything you like.  Do the same thing with number 2, and with number 3.

Then do the actions in order, ticking each one off as you go, always returning to your piece of paper.

The reason this works is because you are bypassing your procrastination mechanisms.  Procrastination often involves overwhelm at the work to be done in life.  We feel inadequate, and so we don’t start anything at all.  We also fall into old habits, to avoid decisions.

The listing method does two important things:

  • It reduces the workload to three manageable items
  • It gives the brain’s executive function something clear to supervise and complete

When you have finished the three items, simply choose three more.  There are more complicated versions of this which help with detailed and extended projects.  But, for the moment, this is a simple description of the basic method.

Don’t be too proud to try it.  You can even include a few leisure or rest activities on the list, as long as they are reasonably short, and you mix them in with more active tasks.

The reason the list has three items is that it is enough activity to provide progress and variety, without overwhelm kicking in.  Good luck.