The “Get The File Out” Principle


My first run with my Nike Frees I got at a glorious deep discount at an outlet last week.

Monday morning I was scheduled for a run. When I woke up, I could tell from the way the house was lit up that the sky was grey. I did not want to go for a run. Thankfully, the day before I had done some research for my ebook and found another helpful productivity principle Mark Foster blogs about called the Get The File OUT (GTFO? uhhh…)  Principle. It’s simple genius and it’s the reason I made it out the door on my run.

It works like this: I don’t want to go for a run this morning. “Why don’t I just at least [next action] get my glass of water,” I reason with myself. That seems simple enough. At that point I have the opportunity to give up, or move on to the next action. With my water in my hand I said to myself, “Why don’t I just make my small pre-run carby breakfast.” While my gluten free waffles were in the toaster, I cajoled myself into putting on my running gear. “I’ll just put them on. I can still decide not to go.” I felt pretty determined in my lack of desire.

But I won! Simply because the Next Action didn’t seem all that frightening. Looking at the whole picture: get hydrated, get food in my belly, change, get out the door — it all felt like a production I didn’t want to orchestrate. Yet, I did it.

Foster gives his own examples:

This technique can be applied to virtually anything that you find yourself resisting. Yesterday afternoon (a Sunday) I felt that all I wanted to do was to veg out in front of the TV. But I had a whole load of tasks which I’d promised myself I’d do that afternoon, which included washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, going for a walk and writing some more of my book. I got myself moving by saying “I’ll just fill the washing up bowl with hot water”. Magically I found the washing up was done. Then I said “I’ll just get the lawnmower out of the shed”. Again magically I found the lawn had been mown. Then I said “I’ll just walk to the end of the front drive”. Fifty minutes later I got back from a long, fast walk through the woods and fields. And finally I said “I’ll just open the Word file for my book”. A thousand words later I felt very virtuous indeed!

So there you have it: another tactic to use to wrangle yourself into accomplishing things you know deep deep deep down you want to do but right now just couldn’t be bothered.

Hope it helps you as much as it does me!

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  • Terra Leavens

    This makes sense. Sometimes Ill do something similar especially with small tasks that I dont want to do but I have a few minutes. Something like, “just run these items up to my room” or “Ill just wash this one dish”. maybe I can apply it to other harder things, like running and eating well.

  • Sven DIEBOLD

    I’ll try this trick!

    • Jess Versteeg

      Hope it works!