Do you ever think about all the things you might have achieved in life if only you could get started?
Day after day, you spend accumulated hours procrastinating or poorly prioritizing unimportant tasks to prevent yourself from getting to the real deal: the important, boring, or nerve-wracking task that you keep blocking out of your mind.
Maybe it’s your tax return. Maybe it’s that job search, or typing the first line of your debut novel. There’s always one more activity to do before you quite get around to concentrate on the one you’ve been avoiding – and meanwhile, a ton of other important stuff gets queued up behind it because you waste so much time refreshing Facebook or the news ‘one more time’ instead of getting started.
You’re not alone. Maybe procrastination is what makes us human. Thankfully, this means some of the more priority-driven among us have figured out ways to get past that brick wall.
The first step is to identify what your ‘iceberg’ task is: let’s say it’s that job search. Next, figure out what the ‘transition’ point is – the step you have to take to get started. In this case, maybe it’s typing your search into a web browser, or picking up the phone to make an appointment with an employment agency. Make that first leap, and everything that follows comes much easier.
Indeed, dividing the whole project up into tiny ‘sub-tasks’ and making a list can make the whole thing feel more manageable and more fulfilling as you get to cross more achievements off your schedule. Add a timeline with deadlines for each sub-task and you’re more likely to ensure you hit them. Before you know it, you’re halfway finished.
Be careful not to work yourself into a corner. The important thing is to get started, but you can soon get distracted and turn your ‘task you can’t get started’ into a ‘task you can’t continue’ if you burn out. Make your job search in measured periods of 60-90 minutes at a time, with 15-minute breaks in between. Use your breaks to stretch your legs, rehydrate, and regain some objectivity.
Follow this new game plan for starting projects you’ve been avoiding, and before you know it, that impossible task becomes a proud accomplishment.