When you agreed to do it, it seemed like a wonderful challenge.
Now, your deadline is fast approaching… and you haven’t even started.
Getting the job done is a priority — yet it somehow doesn’t happen. Instead, it stays there on your daily task list — highlighted for attention but never attended to.
What causes this pernicious process? Why does a great opportunity turn into a very big chore… that turns into an overwhelming enigma… that threatens to turn into the big job you never even started?
There are many causes. But only one solution always works for me.
The solution involves seven steps:
- If you’ve been stuck for more than three days, you’re stuck. Admit it. Stand in front of the mirror and repeat: “I shot my mouth off. I’m stuck.” You’ve been waiting for inspiration to save you, but it hasn’t appeared. Stop waiting.
- Change the status of the job. It started as one priority among many. Now, make it No. 1 on your daily task list.
- Don’t even think of attacking the whole mess at once. Break it up into small pieces. If it’s a 40-page report you have to write, break it up into pages. If it’s a bunch of people you have to talk to, think of each conversation as a separate task.
- Working back from your deadline, figure how many discrete units (pages, calls, etc.) you need to do each day. Then figure out how long it will take you to do that many units.
- If each unit can be done in less than 15 minutes, you’re in luck. Give yourself the job of doing just one 15-minute task each day. If you’ll have to spend more than 15 minutes a day to finish, then begin — still — with 15 minutes… but increase your daily time commitment as you get rolling.
- Start immediately. Complete your first 15 minutes — even if you don’t think you’re doing the task well.
- Keep going until you break through the psychological barrier you’ve been up against.
The secret here is to reduce each day’s work to 15 minutes.
It’s such a small amount of time — you won’t have any trouble doing it. This gets the ball rolling… even if it doesn’t seem to be rolling in the right direction.
Sooner or later — and this is guaranteed — you’ll get the inspiration you’d been waiting for while you were stuck.
Then, you’ll find you’ve already done a good deal of the grunt work (thinking, planning, researching, whatever).
This method is particularly useful when you get to the point where you don’t even like a project anymore. Unless you have the discipline to hack away at it every day, you’ll avoid it. And it will never get done.
Some days, you’ll want to work more than 15 minutes. That’s fine.
In fact, that’s the idea. It means your creative mind is starting to kick in.
One day — and this can happen at almost any time — you’ll see the big picture… and you’ll be able to get the whole project done right. You may decide to scrap — or change — some of what you’ve been doing.
But from that point on, you’ll work quickly and easily.
What are you waiting for? Get to it.
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