A note from Rach Smith's digital garden

Touch the keys

Added: September 13, 2021

Tags: productivity

Earlier in the year I shared the 5 minute timer hack for getting started on a task when activation energy is holding me back. Sometimes, the thought of spending even 5 minutes on something is too overwhelming. When I’m in this place, I find Kourosh Dini’s advice to “touch the keys” really helpful.

In his course Being Productive: Simple Steps to Calm Focus, Dini emphasises the importance of taking a moment to “be with” the work every day (or however frequently you need to tackle a project). “Being with” your work is to be fully present and intentional about that activity and doing nothing else.

This idea was inspired by Dini’s piano teacher, who encouraged him to sit at his piano and touch the keys every day. Even on the days that he felt he had no time or inclination to practice. Sometimes touching the keys would lead to a good practice session, even when he didn’t feel like it would before he actually gave it a go.

I’m using this approach for my daily habits that take intellectual effort, like writing or reading a chapter of a good book. Where the 5 minute timer works great for making me get off my butt and do things like clean out the car or get started on cooking dinner, setting the goal to just one moment of “being with” the task seems less intimidating than an arbitrary time minimum.

Just like Dini, I find that once I give the task my full attention and be present, the actual doing of it turns out to be much easier and more enjoyable than my mind had been expecting. As usual, the resistance to getting started is far more uncomfortable than actually doing the thing.


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