Do you ever have days when you don’t really accomplish a whole lot? You know what I mean, you’re sitting at your desk and your mind wanders off. You idly check your email and your favorite websites for the tenth time today and you don’t feel like doing anything useful at all. Or you’re driving your car and you worry about all the things you still need to do this week or you analyze what went wrong during the long meeting yesterday at the office. Recognize that?

Whenever this happens to me, I try to put myself in a different mindset with two powerful commands: Now! and Action! They bring me back to the current situation, the current reality, and they remind me to be action-oriented in order to accomplish something… anything! These two simple commands I use on myself actually embody more elaborate feelings and principles of course.

You have tens and tens of thousands of thoughts every single day. Your mind simply won’t shut up. Chances are many of your thoughts either dwell on the past or dream (or worry) about the future. In many cases this is very useful and necessary of course, but to feel really calm and peaceful you need to focus on the present, the now. Really use your eyes to look at things around you. What color do they have, what texture do they have, what shape do they have? Really use your ears to listen to the sounds around you. Use all of your senses to really feel, enjoy and appreciate the present, your current state of being and your surroundings. Let go of the past, forget about the future, feel that you are alive right now!
I’ve found this deliberate focus on now to be very powerful. Your mind is at ease, and you just are. Of course, being a GTD-er makes this process a little bit easier. Just knowing that all of your open loops have been captured in a trusted system makes it easier to let go of the past and the future and focus on the present.

Being a GTD-er also means I know exactly what I could and should be doing at any given moment in time. It’s the doing-part that sometimes fails to kick in! Whenever I don’t really feel motivated at all to do something, I force myself to pick any action from my next action list, usually a simple or unimportant one, and just start doing it. Many times this approach gently but surely puts me back in a productive state of mind. First I pick a few minor next actions, finish them successfully and accomplish some part of my many projects at the very least! I feel like I’m doing something. Certainly not the most important thing I should be doing right now, but on some level I’m accomplishing something anyway. Slowly I work my way to more important next actions, the ones that are part of projects I really should be making progress on. This ‘bootstrapping’ principle usually succeeds in making me feel productive again and doing the things I should be doing. Basically, just stacking action upon action, no matter what the action really is, slowly coerces your mind back to a productive state!

What do you tell or command yourself in order to focus on the here and now and to take action?