Like the Three Secrets to Beat Procrastination & Distraction.
Hillel – the great Torah sage – teaches us to beat these foes of productivity.
הוא היה אומר, אם אין אני לי, מי לי. וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני. ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי:
He [Rabbi Hillel] used to say: If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when? (Pirkei Avot 1:14)
I write this because I fall into the trap as well.
Here are the three secrets – then I will relate them to Hillel’s dictum.
1. Remove Emotions from the Equation
2. Make a List of 10 things you want to accomplish in the Day and focus on three.
3. Start with 5 minutes of the undesired task.
Here are explanations on Hillel’s three pieces of advice.
If I am not for me, who will be for me?
Many a time I procrastinate because I don’t feel like calling or dealing with someone or dealing with a problem. My emotions stop me from progressing. So I have 2 or 3 options 1. To listen to my emotions and procrastinate. 2. Overcome my emotions. 3. Remove my emotions. I act like “Spock” – a person who acts on logic – not emotions and make my feelings of not wanting to make that call irrelevant.
How do I do so? I think that it is irrelevant what the other person will say. It only matters what my job is. Meaning – that if I have a responsibility to do something positive (as dictated by the Torah) – it is irrelevant what the other person will react. I have to accomplish my purpose in my life. What other people think is not my problem.
Let’s take an example – I have to eat Kosher. I have to have a lunch meeting with the boss. Now what will the boss say if he invites me to a fancy restaurant and I can’t eat there because I eat Kosher. So I can push off my meeting or tell the boss – I can only eat in a Kosher restaurant. I am responsible for my actions as told in the Torah. If I am concerned of what will other people think – it is a recipe for self-erasure. Blending into the crowd. Becoming a robot of society.
And when I am for myself alone, what am I?
Obviously I have to accomplish my purpose in such a way by acting in accordance to Torah values – ie, by not stepping on others shoes, by not hurting other’s feelings, by not acting dishonestly, etc.
By acting according to my whims and feelings is in a sense relatively selfish. If I can help another person and I relegate myself to playing video game or surfing on amazon or checking my whatsapp every 2 minutes – I lose the opportunity of helping others.
Thus I must get organized and make my priorities. One way to do such is an idea from Warren Buffet – of Berkshire Hathaway – one of the richest people in the world – given to his Executive Jet pilot. He said make a list of 25 things or goals you want to accomplish. Rank the 5 most important ones. Take care of those five. As for the other 20 forbid yourself to take care of them until you accomplish the first 5.
We distract ourselves with not only things that are not our goals – but things that are our goals but of a lesser priority. If we focus on our main goals – we help ourselves and other people.
And if not now, then when?
If I don’t take care of something right away, I may end up using time allocated for another purpose. Thus I must focus on getting things done on time in the proper time. How? I don’t feel like doing certain things. Now what?
A simple solution is to start 5 minutes of the undesired task. Once you get the ball rolling it is easier to continue.
If there is a will there is a way to be more productive and accomplish your purpose. You can do it.