The Law of Minimizing Friction

Remember the time you thought you had a week left to finish a project and then suddenly you realized that it was due the next day?

We all have gone through this. We spend time watching Netflix, scrolling Instagram, partying with friends and then one day we realize the submission deadline is in the next few hours. Bam! We turn the world upside down, freeze our hands to death, go on an indefinite fast just to complete the task – something that we should have completed days ago.

How do I know all this? Well, this post you are reading now was supposed to be published in May. But every time I opened my laptop to write, I ended up spending hours watching this video on YouTube and then wondering what would happen if we give him a punching bag and then thinking why is he always angry and then googling that and reading about it for a while. 

What is Procrastination?

So, what is happening to all of us? There’s a term for it: ‘Procrastination’. 

Did you notice the example sentence says, ‘avoid procrastination’? That’s it. Loud and Clear. No need for fancy neuroscientists. Well, it’s not that simple! 

The Mind Duel

Inside the mind of a procrastinator, there’s a constant duel of the Present and the Future. The Future wants to be a writer, the Present wants to avoid reading books. The Future wants to be rich; the Present wants to spend all the money on expensive clothing.   

The Future wants six-pack abs, the Present wants a six-piece pizza.

Most of the time, in this duel, the Present wins. Why avoid that delicious pizza today, if I can’t see any immediate effect. Yes, I will get overweight in 10 years – but that’s 10 years. Why wait. 

Whenever there’s a delay in the consequences (or rewards), we start procrastinating. Our brain craves for immediate rewards. 

This is one of the main reasons why we go to bed feeling motivated but wake to find ourselves falling back into old patterns. 

Also Read: Here’s how to stay motivated throughout the day.

The Law of Minimizing Friction

So, how we get out of this? There’s a rule that I follow. I call it ‘The Law of Minimizing Friction’.

One of the biggest hurdles in completing most tasks is starting them. That is the only friction that’s stopping you from achieving your dream. Once you start, you will continue by yourself.

Let’s understand with an example of how friction can be minimized: 

Suppose you need to start running. At 6 pm, the time you have scheduled for running, ask yourself what’s the first thing that you need to do to start running. Is it pre-workout? Is it a diet plan? No!  

The first thing you need to do to start running is putting your shoes on. Yes, that simple. Once you put your shoes on, the friction will be minimized by 70%. It would be much easier for you to complete the task. And how difficult it is to put running shoes on.

Need to complete an assignment? First, open your laptop. The rest will be done automatically. Need to go to the gym? Just put on your gym wear. Need to complete a book? Just place your notebook and pen on a table. 

The challenge is not to finish a task, but to start it. By taking the first step, you ensure that you start a task and show up daily.

Success is created through the performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to produce legendary achievements far beyond anything you could have ever planned for.

You can also use visual cues or habit-tracking apps to track your progress. These are quick, simple, and proved methodologies to beat procrastination. As you master these, you can proceed to follow complex rituals.

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