Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

How to start something you know you have to but you don’t feel like


There are sometimes things we need to do, learn or achieve… but just can’t start… we know that by doing these things we’ll move a lot more forward or the benefits of doing them will be really great… but still we can’t start. We’re “stuck”. Sounds familiar? Read below for the solution.

How to start something you know you have to but you don’t feel like

Well, I was recently “stuck” with a programming problem.

I had to learn how to use regular expressions in a very advanced way and I actually never needed or wanted to use regular expressions… although I knew they were really powerful and really useful.

So I was stuck, before yesterday I would just ask my developer to prepare an expression for me that would do this or that… and that’s it. Problem solved.

But I hated this - not knowing how these regular expressions work… I always hate it when I don’t know how something works. I needed to get to the bottom of it.

Step 1 - ask for guidance

I started by asking my developer for some guidance, for some “regular expressions for dummies” book or anything that would help me understand the subject quickly and nicely.

Step 2 - review the documentation received

He did borrow me a book of his and sent me a couple of links to check out… and most importantly, he pointed me to code in Nozbe where he used regular expressions so that I could see in real time how this works.

Step 3 - read and ask for guidance again

So I did start to read, reviewed the code he sent (I love examples - they teach me a lot more than a dry definition), read the key parts from the book he borrowed me and checked some online tutorials.

Done, I know how regular expressions work and starting using them myself in a piece of code I’m working on.

So what’s the most important lesson here? How to start something you don’t feel like doing but you know you have to?

Magic Answer: Ask for guidance and support so you don’t get stuck in the problem alone.

That’s right - asking my developer for guidance and support was the key here - he motivated me to try this and really get to the bottom of the problem and I knew I could ask him again if needed. And he helped me commit to solving the problem. After all I knew he’d ask how it all went and I didn’t want to tell him I gave up.

Question: How do you solve these kinds of problems? How do you get things done when you don’t feel like doing the stuff you know you should do?