If you want to implement a project, you shouldn’t wait too long: If you don’t get started within three days, the chances of getting started at all are slim.
If you want to implement a plan, you shouldn’t wait too long. At least that’s what the 72-hour rule says: If you don’t start something within three days, the chances of getting started at all drop to around one percent.
The 72-hour rule: that’s behind the approach
You probably know that too: You are highly motivated. You received impulses in a seminar or a lecture inspired you. You might also want to start a podcast, start a blog, or start a new project at work. Then everyday life comes in – and weeks later there is not much left of the motivation.
Don’t put off such plans: if we wait too long with something, our brains assume the task is not important or urgent – and it keeps falling. After all, there are tons of other tasks that we can devote ourselves to – until all of a sudden, weeks later, you think about your project again, but then you can’t muster the energy for it. The original enthusiasm has evaporated. The longer you wait, the more doubts you will get about your idea.
72-hour rule: It’s about taking the first steps
It is not known where the 72-hour rule comes from. It is clear that exactly 72 hours are not important. However, the principle is correct: if you want to get something done, you shouldn’t postpone it. Our brain is sluggish in many ways: We think about 95 to 98 percent of the same thoughts over and over again. It is therefore difficult for new ideas to even network with each other in the brain – and if something comes up, they quickly slip to the side and we forget them.
Incidentally, the 72-hour rule does not mean that you should complete your project within the 72 hours. In many cases this is not possible at all. Rather, it is about taking the first steps to implement your idea:
Make a plan
How do you intend to go about it? What is necessary to prepare? In which sub-steps can you break down the big picture in order to cope with it? What is important for this and what do you need? Create a to-do list. There you first write down everything you can think of – no matter how banal it may seem to you at first.
Take your first steps
Is there anything you can do right now? If you want to learn a foreign language, you could find out what options there are. Does someone offer courses at your location? How expensive is a language trip? Where are correspondence courses available or to what extent can an online program or app help you? Gather information and get an overview.
Talk to others about your project
It helps many people to discuss their plans with others. Not only do you create a certain amount of social pressure, but you are also likely to receive input that will help you. You may even find a friend who is interested in implementing the project with you. Either way, if others know of your plans, you are more likely to stay tuned.
If you have a resolution to read a book every week, someone will probably ask what you are reading and how you like it, or what title is next on your list. This will keep you motivated to actually read more. It is of course nicer when the motivation comes from within, but some people need a certain amount of pressure.
Put your goals in writing
It can also help if you put your goal in writing. What do you want to achieve? How far do you want to be in a week, a month, half a year? Where do you want to end up when you have implemented the project? As you develop a vision, you will find it easier to stay motivated.
Use the resubmission
Sometimes you start enthusiastically with something – but then everyday life comes in between. There is a lot to do at work, at the weekend you do the shopping and meet friends, dig free time for sports – and the beautiful project is a long way away. This mainly happens with projects that are not time-bound.
If you want to create a podcast, write a newsletter or simply gain more visibility in social networks, it is important that you are regularly active. It can therefore help if you schedule a fixed date in your calendar to remind you of your plans on a regular basis.
Divide your project into sub-steps
When you tackle a big project, you sometimes feel paralyzed: there is just so much to do and none of it seems to be feasible. In this case, it helps to divide the big project into small sub-steps that are easy to manage on their own.
So do not undertake too much, but approach the task carefully. If you take ten minutes to do it every day, by the end of the week you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished. It also increases your motivation because you don’t overwhelm yourself, but regularly experience small successes because you have achieved your goal for the respective day.