We shared a 99 article on Facebook a while back about the 10 Laws of Productivity. What got us thinking here at Any.do was the first bullet – Breaking The Seal Of Hesitation. According to 99U’s research “A bias toward action is the most common trait we’ve found across the hundreds of creative professionals and entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed.”

Why did it strike a chord? Well, maybe because some of us have suffered from the affliction, although we’re loath to admit it. We’re pretty productive people (kinda don’t have a choice when it’s written in your product description) but it’s only human to hesitate when taking on a new challenge, especially if, like most creative and entrepreneurial endeavors, it doesn’t have clear boundaries and guidelines.

Here are 3 ways to break – nay, destroy – the seal of hesitation and build momentum on anything in your Today, Tomorrow, or even Someday list.

#1. Confront your emotional blockades

There’s something holding you back and it’s not laziness. Oftentimes fear of failure, anxiety about a demanding client/ boss, confusion about where to start, or even anger that you’re required to work on something you don’t believe is a good use of your time can be the underlying emotions holding you back.

The key is to forgive yourself. Leo Baubata, author and founder of Zen Habits, preaches the art of self-compassion. Understand the emotions that are holding you hostage, fully feel through them rather than push them away and inevitably exacerbate the situation, and then comfort yourself by letting it go. Even Leo admits it’s not an easy practice but “the salve of self-compassion can change your entire life.”

#2. Get into the 4am flow

OK, maybe 4am is an ungodly hour for some of you, but waking up exceptionally early may just be the key to getting that project started. Entrepreneur and founder Paul DeJoe writes that the magical 4am hour offers a few rare luxuries: bright sunlight for stimulating your mind, a quiet world without distractions or expectations, and the indescribable flow of being totally involved in the task at hand.

In fact, that elusive “flow” that we’re all looking for, where we’re totally engrossed in the moment and experience the satisfaction of exploring a new challenge, can lead to deep enjoyment and a positive state of mind. Might be worth resetting the alarm clock after all.

#3. Find ways to be braver in daily life

If you find that fear and pressure to perform are consistent stressors that hold you back from taking action, then consider desensitizing yourself of those emotions in other parts of your life. This tip comes from one of our own Any.do team members who has tried it and recommends challenging yourself in ways that raise the bar for what inhibits you.

The idea is the more you try new things that you’re apprehensive about, the more you get into the habit of ‘just doing it’, and the less you hold yourself back in other areas of life. Try downloading AppSumo’s Failure Games and see how far you can get with the daily challenges, or join your local Toastmasters (if the thought of public speaking makes you break out in hives.) It’s not necessarily about gaining new skills. It’s about getting into the habit of breaking the seal of hesitation over and over again until it no longer feels like an obstacle. That habit will translate across all areas of your life, including work. (And if you trip up at any point along your adventures in bravery, be sure to employ self-compassion as described in #1 above.)

Remember: planning, researching, scheduling, and preparing are typically not doing. They’re just more ways to procrastinate the actual rolling up of your sleeves and getting into the messy task ahead. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you’ve broken through, there’s a solid chance it will only get better from there.

Go forth and be productive,

Any.Do Team