Life’s not as simple as ‘Just do it’ but Nike with their ubiquitous slogan do have a point, and there is certainly value in any message which focuses our attention away from the black hole of procrastination.
It would be fair to say that most things that are worth doing, because they are worth doing well, are going to require a little thought, planning and evaluation but all too often just getting started is the most important step.
And so it was with huge pleasure that I was able to gain inspiration for my assembly this week from a group of our Year 9 girls who had ‘just done it’!
Having been motivated by an urge to do help society, they were inspired to raise money for JK Rowling’s charity Lumos. From this initial idea, the girls then planned their event, pitched it to school leaders, budgeted, ordered materials, prepared activities, promoted and finally delivered a day of Halloween activities, including craft, STEM and even doing the time-warp!
These girls achieved something which even qualified teachers worry about doing well.
We are all guilty of procrastination. Some say that if you haven’t begun to tackle the task you are thinking about within five seconds, then you won’t. Five seconds doesn’t seem to give us much of a chance as that essay looms over us, but maybe the suggestion that just starting something can be the difference between success and failure, has value.
The Zeigarnik effect is a well understood psychological phenomenon which has been investigated since the 1920s. This phenomenon was originally noticed by Lithuanian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik as he observed that two waiters were able to recall, in detail, orders that were still outstanding but were unable to recall fulfilled orders. It demonstrated that if a task is begun, you are significantly more likely to remember it.
How many times have you dreaded the time you know it will take to complete an assignment only to find that once started, you rather enjoy it.
For me ‘Just do it’ isn’t about rushing in without thinking or planning, it isn’t about blindly running from one task to the next, ticking boxes, it is simply about the value of starting something, whether you plan to do more exercise, learn a new language, start a project at work or even just host a party.
There is a balance to be had between planning and doing and having that ‘Just do it’ mantra in the back of one’s head can be a helpful little nag when energy or confidence is flagging.
What is particularly pleasing to me is how this attitude is infectious, particularly in more familial environments such as Queen’s. This group of girls has been such an inspiration that another group of girls – a group of 6th formers in fact - who heard about their charity day are now planning on creating a similar event themselves.
My advice to them is ‘Just do it! – and plan along the way!’