The second to last item on my Daily Review checklist was to “organize your desk,” which includes the very large stack of papers in my Inbox. My Inbox, inspired of course by David Allen’s book Getting Things Done, is where all of my incoming papers go so that I can process them and decide what actions need to be done with them at a designated time.
Well, the papers kept piling up to the point that the stack was so overwhelming that I never did anything with them.
Then I adjusted that item on my Daily Review checklist to “Organize the top layer of your office Inbox.”
Little by little that tall stack of papers has gotten shorter and shorter.
I process and organize the paper at the top, but since it doesn’t take very long I usually end up organizing a few more papers as well.
Momentum is everything.
A small step leads to a second step, then a third, fourth, fifth, and so on until the job is done.
If you have a project that is so large it seems almost impossible to accomplish, you have to break it down to the smallest possible task. In Getting Things Done terms this means the smallest possible next action.
Writing a book, for example, is a daunting task. When I’m writing a book, even a long book, I set a goal to write for just ten minutes each day. It is a very small goal. I may only write 200 words. The point is to motivate myself to take a step no matter how small. Once I write for ten minutes, then the second ten or twenty are relatively painless and easy to continue.
I recently started an experiment I am calling “20-Minute Marketing.” I realized that I spend almost all of my time on a Maker’s Schedule and a Manager’s Schedule and very little time on marketing. Once I set a daily goal of marketing for 20 minutes, I got myself out of a rut and started to see my email list and sales increase at a much higher rate.
So, look at a project that is looming over your head right now.
What is the smallest possible task you could do to move that project forward on a daily basis?