Baby Steps

Girl on Stairs

Last week we talked about the importance of starting before you’re ready. Today I wanted to talk a bit about how to start.

Often our projects seem overwhelming and hard to approach, because you don’t know where to begin.

Sometimes however, the most important thing, is to just take one step.

Any step.

Once you get started, it’ll be easier to continue.

So What Do You Do?

Think it’s overwhelming to exercise for an hour? Start with 2 minutes and work your way up slowly (I’m serious!)

Want to begin flossing your teeth? Start with just one tooth (not joking!) (I got this excellent tip from Leo Babauta in his excellent post The Tiny Guide to Creating the Flossing Habit).

Instead of cleaning the entire kitchen, deal with just one drawer.

Write the headline or the first sentence of your book (or any sentence!)

 Next Steps

Of course taking just one small step won’t get you very far, but it is a great beginning.

Build a little on it every day, until it becomes a habit, and you’ll start making real headway on your projects.

Questions

What do you do to make progress on your projects?

6 Comments

  1. It’s the hardest to create a schedule. I’m a bit of a push over when it comes to my family and my writing suffers as a result. Taking baby steps of continuous progress will establish a habit and I just need to stick with it. Thanks for the reminder!

    • You’re welcome! It’s definitely not easy, I struggle with it as well. I find that often the things that aren’t urgent get pushed for later, but I need to work on keeping my priorities straight.

  2. Ten Things, which is mostly helpful in cleaning but could apply to other things. I got this tip from a blogger with Aperger’s disorder. A lot of aspies tend to have trouble starting new tasks, and can easily get overwhelmed trying to decide what to do first. Personally, I always tried to order it and do one specific, categorical task – I’ll clean up this corner, or put away all the books. But then I get sidetracked and never get to the next step, and before I move forward the area I’ve cleaned is messy again. Another problem is that it’s easy to get hung up on the one category, so that I’d tear apart the room to find a missing book and make it worse. The Ten Things method gets past all that – no thinking about what I’m doing, no categorizing. I have to put away any ten things, right then. That’s small enough to do throughout the day instead of spending a bunch of time cleaning. And it has an obvious goal, which takes priority over the larger, lofty goal of a clean house, so it’s easier to get that sense of accomplishment and want to keep going. I wind up cleaning what’s easy and immediately visible, rather than wasting time looking for something specific, and before long everything’s finished.

    In applying for jobs, even though I’ve been told that I’m supposed to apply to several every day, I found that so overwhelming I wound up applying to none. Instead I break it down and will spend an hour or two one day looking through openings and finding the top three I would like to have, then will spend the next three days doing an application each day. It’s slower and might seem lazy to some people, but it’s the way I know to get past my anxiety about it and make sure I’m doing something.

    • Ten Things is a great tool! I’m borderline Aspie too so I find a lot of their coping mechanisms helpful in my every day life as well.
      When it comes to cleaning, I find that following the 2-min rule helps me a lot (if it takes less than 2 mins to do something, do it straight away).
      It is soooo easy for me to get distracted though.

      As for applying jobs, I am EXACTLY the same. I was paralyzed at first. Now I’m signed up to several daily newsletters with job openings, which I receive and go through in the morning, any relevant jobs get saved with the apply by date and a link to the job ad. Then each day I sit down and write an application.

  3. I usually go for “do a little bit every day”. This usually shows me some progress which motivates me to do more. And if I don’t have time to do much, I don’t fall behind my standards, what would be most demotivating for me.

  4. Taking baby steps is truly the best technique! When I’m feeling overwhelmed by a project, it’s best for me to split it into smaller and smaller steps, until the step-size is manageable. Then getting started isn’t so hard.

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