Here’s how it works:
- Write down all possible next steps involved in completing the project without worrying about whether the list is complete or in order. You don’t have to “think of everything” or make the “ideal plan.”
- Schedule in just 15-30 minutes to move forward on the project. The point is to set aside a short enough block of time that you can commit to it without feelings of anxiety or hesitation about your ability to follow through. (Think baby steps.)
- During that designated time, take action toward your goal by choosing to make progress on one or more of the steps you brainstormed. Don’t aim too high. Just tackle a small amount of work that you know you can actually complete in that time window.
- At the end of the time, write down any new steps you discovered on your master list and schedule the next specific day and time when you will move forward on the project.
- Repeat as needed, which may mean for the entire project or may just mean for the very initial messy stages when making a comprehensive plan or setting aside huge amounts of time to move forward is impossible or fills you with dread.
Now, some of you may be wondering: “Will I really get results when I work in these tiny chunks of time? Is it possible to really ‘get in the zone’?”
The short answer is: Any action is almost always better than none. But there are a number of reasons why working in small chunks might not only be practical, but also preferable for you:
- Reduces build-up energy. If you haven’t made progress on a project for weeks, months or even years, even five minutes of forward movement is an improvement. You can choose to spend longer periods of time on a project, but the Short & Sweet method makes it excruciatingly easy both emotionally and mentally to break through the inertia.
- Makes you like yourself & your project again. When you won’t work on a project until the “ideal” moment, you begin to feel a massive weight of guilt and shame that makes you not even want to think about the project that once brought you great joy. Taking small steps forward will help you to feel successful and renew your positive associations with the entire process.
- Gives you time to get help. One of the scary parts of beginning a creative endeavor, especially with a new technology or a new client, is that you aren’t quite sure of the total scope of the work. By starting early and starting often, you have time to ask for help, get feedback, make edits or even request a timeline extension before it’s too late for you to do so without embarrassment.
- Allows you to unleash your brilliance. As Fred Wilson so beautifully describes in his post on subconscious information processing, as soon as you give your mind a problem to solve, it starts working day and night on the project. By using short bits of time to move forward, particularly in the initial brainstorming phase, you give yourself a greater opportunity to unleash your genius than you could have done in a long single spurt.
Over to You…