Have you ever felt that your projects are so big or so complex that you don’t know where to start? It may be the design of your new website, the analysis of this year’s financial reports, or even the research of new prospect markets. Most likely you devote several hours a week to plan this in your head, but you never reach the stage of “actually doing it”. Well, it’s time to stop procrastinating and take the first step. Believe it or not, all you need to kick-start your engine is to take a small action.
How do you usually handle your tasks? If you have a list on your mind with your to-dos, it’s important that you write down those items, you can do this on a notebook o a whiteboard at your office. This simple action will help you establish priorities. Or, what I like to call them, your MITs (Most Important Things).
First you need to decide which tasks you will be focusing on. If you’re anything like me – and since you are reading this I’m sure we have more than one or two things in common – you likely have more than one task or activity to complete within the next 3 or 4 days. If so, you need to focus on only one task at a time. If your mind is forced to be divided between finishing a report for the board of directors, reading the latest regulations for your industry, and selecting the most suitable candidate for that position that recently opened, it is very likely that you will feel overwhelmed and will end up putting it off altogether.
And this is true not only for your work-life, but also for everything else you do. Maybe you are putting off starting with that carpentry project you have at home, or maybe there is a book on your night table waiting for you to read it, but you keep procrastinating. This is what Tim Braheem, my business mentor, meant a couple of years ago when he recommended to me: “When you’re at work, work” (more about this on page 14 of my book).
There are 3 things you can do to take that first step and stop procrastination:
1. Write it down. You likely have more than one task going around in your head that you still need to get started with. Write down not only the task (as a noun), but also a verb related to that task (for more information on how to do this, go to page 15 of my book).
2. Prioritize. If you wrote two or three items on your list, which one should you give priority to? Don’t try to work on all of them at once, because this will only make you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Devote 15 minutes to planning each of the tasks, so you can figure out the exact actions each of them will require. Tip: begin each line on your list with a small verb, in other words, something that you can do in chunks of 15-30 minutes (more about this on page 16 of my book).
3. Take the first step. Point 1 and 2 are essential to accomplish point 3. When you dismantle a larger project into smaller, specific actions, it won’t be as difficult to start doing one of them.
The best part is the feeling of accomplishment that you will get by simply taking the first step, and discovering that this is what moves your project forward. I guarantee that you’ll feel motivated to go on!
So go ahead, take 15 minutes right now to make your list of MITs, and then follow the steps I explained above. Don’t forget to let me know how it worked out for you!