The Resistance List


Takeaway: Make a list of everything you’re resisting doing, and each day, pick one thing on the list to do. You might be surprised by how well this tactic works for getting more done and for overcoming mental resistance in general.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes, 34s.

One of the most productive habits I’ve developed in a long time is to do something I’m mentally resisting every single day. I keep these items on my “resistance list” in a ritual that I think of as “resistance training.”

For example, a few tasks on my list right now include:

  • Finish writing a newsletter welcome sequence;
  • Coming up with a social media strategy (I’m terrible at social media in general: here’s some proof);
  • Come up with an exercise plan for next month;
  • Map out a new keynote speaking topic I’ve considered for a few months.

These tasks are ugly—I don’t want to do them, though I do want to have done them. I prefer to store once-off things on the list as opposed to the habits I’m developing.

My habit with this list is simple: I pick one thing to work on each day. It doesn’t matter how long—I can work on it for any length of time—but the key is to make some progress on the list daily.

The curious thing about resistance is that most of it lives at the beginning of a task. For example, once you jump into a cold pool, you can stay in for an hour. A few minutes into cleaning the basement closet, you feel you can go all afternoon.

Making a resistance list is a habit you’re likely to put off, but that’s the point. The fact that you’re resisting doing something is usually a sign a task is important.

Tackling one item on the list every day, I’ve found something interesting: overcoming resistance is something we can get better at. Over time, your resistance level goes down, and it becomes easier to do everyday tasks. They’re not as much of a bother as you’ve made a habit of doing them.

This tactic is one you’re bound to put off. But that’s the reason you should give it a shot.

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