Have you ever felt stuck looking at a huge project? Whether it’s something that must get done in your professional or personal life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when the scope of work is large.
As a life coach, career coach, and executive coach based in NYC, I meet with a lot of ambitious people with impressive goals and dreams but many have difficulty moving forward and seeing their plans through to completion.
When this happens, I recommend starting with “micro-actions.” More commonly known as “baby steps,” micro-actions are small things you can do to keep the ball moving forward. They’re great procrastination-busters and can ease the anxiety caused by large projects.
Here’s how to use micro-actions to break through productivity logjams:
Do One Thing
When stuck or procrastinating, do one (smallest) thing possible to move forward. Don’t worry if the step you choose seems miles from the finish line that you’re trying to reach the important thing is to engage in some sort of action.
For example, if you have a research report due next month and don’t know where to begin, break down your tasks into several small steps. Your first step might be to research your topic online, gathering sources. Your second step might be to write a draft first sentence. Next, you’d write your first paragraph, then your first page, then your first chapter of the report. Take each of these micro-actions one at a time until you’ve finished the project.
Keep It Simple
The complexity of an entire project is what stops many of us in our tracks when we try to reach our goals. Instead of viewing a project in its entirety such as building a website, writing a book, or applying for an educational program focus on each micro-action to keep it simpler.
To take the first example, if you need a website built, you might need to consider content, design, social media, and maintenance. Thinking about the big picture might cause you to despair and procrastinate figuring out your site and what types of help you need to build it. Instead, focus first only on content before moving onto design and the later steps. As you finish one micro-action, you’ll often start getting ideas for the next one.
Chart Your Progress
With many small steps to consider toward your final result, it’s important to use a tracking system to help you chart your progress. Keeping track of each micro-action and logging it as you complete it can help keep you motivated.
Before you start a large project, it’s helpful to create an outline of each micro-action that you’ll need to tackle en route to your goal. To chart your progress, simply list the steps involved, and check them off as you finish each one. You might want to post a visual of your completed micro-actions to encourage you to keep going.
Build on Success
One of the best things about micro-actions is that they build on each other. As you complete each step, it paves the way for the next action. Often as you move forward, details are revealed that you wouldn’t have been aware of before.
Use micro-actions to fuel your initiative and make changes in your pattern of procrastination. The next time you feel stuck, propel yourself forward and through self-created barriers of resistance by taking baby steps toward your goals. By committing to a series of small actions, you’ll gradually overcome your inertia and complete what you started.
Mark Strong is a Life Coach, Career Coach, and Executive Coach based in NYC. You can find more information at www.markstrongcoaching.com.