A monk told Joshu: “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Joshu asked: “Have you eaten your rice porridge?”
The monk replied: “I have eaten.”
Joshu said: “Then you had better wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.
This is a famous Zen story that I’ve come across many times. There are a lot of different interpretations of it but I thought I would share mine.
It’s the idea that you take care of the right things in the moment. Not later. Not tomorrow.
No, right now.
When you finish eating, you wash your bowl right away. When you finish writing on your computer, you close all your application windows. When you’re done working for the day, you clear your desk.
If you’ve been with us for a while you will notice that it’s very similar to our popular Clearing To Neutral habit. It’s when you clear things and set things up for next time, so you make it easy for your future-self to get started. This minimizes friction which makes it harder for procrastination to kick in.
When you make Clearing to Neutral habitual, you won’t ever have to worry about procrastination again. Maybe this mantra of “wash your bowl” will help.
The next time you’re about to finish something, just say “wash your bowl”. It’s catchy, easy to remember and it can act like a trigger to initiate your Clearing to Neutral habit.
This is one of my personal favorite productivity tips that I always share with others. Want more? Check out The AE Primer.