A Slave To My Reminders
At any one time, I will have at least 10 reminders listed on my phone. Before I even make it out of the office, a notification will pop up in my pocket, reminding me to go to get petrol or milk after work.
I’m about to start cooking dinner and there it goes again – a chore demanding attention like a growing mountain of laundry or a pressing, unsent email.
When optimistic, I might press “remind me in an hour”. This game can then be repeated two or three times per reminder before I either stop kidding myself and select “remind me tomorrow”, or I defeatedly press that magic “ignore” button.
The problem with ignoring chores is that they compound. One small task a day is manageable and almost effortless. But procrastinate Monday through to Thursday and you are left with not one but five things to do Friday evening when you have already made plans.
As someone with consistently mild levels of anxiety, my reminder list hangs over me accompanied by a foreboding sense of dread.
I have memos on my phone that could take me 30 minutes to address and yet they have been gathering dust for months.
When compiled, small tasks leave us feeling out of control and stressed. I have always struggled to completely “switch off”. My free time is spent half-thinking about what I “should” be doing instead. You might be able to relate.
The Case For Getting Shit Done
Why is it so easy to procrastinate over little jobs?
Precisely because they are small.
As human beings, we orientate ourselves towards big challenges because their accomplishment, and our subsequent growth, make us feel great. There is a biochemical reward for progress, not to mention the material benefits.
By contrast, tasks like sending an email, cleaning your desk out or changing your bed sheets, appear never-ending. They will only demand your attention again in the near future and there are rarely imposed deadlines that could bear consequences if you just held off a little longer…
I would like, however, to make the case for “getting shit done”. To dwell on the small, fleeting but not insignificant sense of satisfaction that even the most mundane of chores can offer.
The most uneventful or downright unsuccessful day can be marginally improved with a full tank of petrol, paid utility bills or a sparkly clean oven. You can go to bed with one less thing to do tomorrow and a sense of having your life a little more under control.
There is nothing trivial about that.
The Power of the “Mini Win”
What I am describing is the power of the “mini win”. This is a call to celebrate the unsung small victories that make up our lives. Why? Because just as chores can compound, so can mini wins and the effect is game-changing.
One evening you will be doing your ironing and the next you could have your next business idea, directly because you freed up the time and, more importantly, the headspace from distractions and procrastination-guilt.
The mini win of dragging your arse to the gym before work, when repeated three times a week, 6 months down the line leaves you with a whole new body. A level of fitness and wellbeing you had never before known.
Mini wins have a corresponding effect on others too. Getting your life in order can inspire or subconsciously influence other people in your network.
Finally replacing your holey work trousers and polishing your shoes could lead someone else in the office – someone you never even speak to – to start dressing better too. This change might be all it takes to increase the pride they take in their work or even their overall confidence.
Their entire career trajectory could be transformed over time.
Why You Should Share Your Mini Wins
This post was inspired by a Facebook community I’m part of called Safe Space.
It’s a group that encourages personal development, sharing advice, experiences and resources with one another. In particular, Safe Space has an ongoing contest where members are encouraged to post their “mini win of the week”.
I love this idea. I have absorbed the word “mini win” into my vocabulary and mindset (as you can probably tell).
Too often in life when we experience success, we don’t stop to acknowledge or appreciate it. When we do share our wins with others, this sharing is reserved for what we deem to be “significant” achievements.
We overlook the mini wins that make up life’s daily struggle. Yet sharing our small victories can have a huge impact on everything from our mental health to productivity.
Environments like Safe Space nurture self-awareness and the desire for betterment. The success of others becomes a source of inspiration and not envy.
We all need a little bit of encouragement and the occasional pat on the back to keep us going. A supportive comment on Facebook from a stranger can be enough.
For many of us, “big wins” aren’t on the cards (or at least regularly forecasted). It is the mini win that keeps us going in the right direction.