In a recent article, I wrote about taking action (article 014) and in that article I wrote about deconstructing your goals, working backwards to where you are today to find your plan of action. However, what I did not get very into detail about is how to break those tasks down to the smallest level and making them as achievable as possible.
The 5-Minute Rule
I like to refer to this as the 5-minute rule, and it works exactly how it sounds. You break things down into small tasks that don’t last more than a minute. For example, if you want to write a blog, some tasks might be getting a notepad and pencil out on the table, write down 4 topic ideas, pick one of those topics, and write 5 possible titles for your first article.
This may seem very small and you may say that each of these tasks is so easy and hardly even take 5 mins. That is the whole point, it’s so easy, that there is literally no excuse you can’t do it. If you are busy with school work or a mother running around after your children, you can still accomplish each of these at any point that you have a moment to yourself.
Why This Works
First, answer the question: why don’t they seem very daunting? Because each of these tasks are so small, none of them are overwhelming or time-consuming, and they are easy to accomplish to move you one step closer to your bigger goal.
It is possible that you could do all of these in one sitting, but with each step forward you check another thing off and feel better. For example, if you get part way through this list, you will still feel accomplished because you could check off a couple of tasks. However, if you had just written “Start Blog” on your to-do list, that seems much harder, and you feel like “that’s going to take hours” resulting in you not taking those first steps. Even if you do, and you get your pencil out, then you get distracted or taken away from your task, you feel like you have gotten nowhere because you could not check off something to see your progress, and feel good.
Make your tasks as defined as possible
Each small task should be very defined, either something you know will take less than 5 minutes, or something with a defined number, such as “write 5 possible titles” or “edit 2 photos”. With this definition, you know at what point you can finally check that task off. You can put “edit 2 photos” 20 times on your to-do list over the next few days so that in the end you edit 40 photos. This is much more actionable then just writing “edit photos” and not really knowing how many you want to accomplish, and even if you did sit down and edit for an hour, did you edit the number of photos you wanted to edit?
This is a great tactic to help you start your goals, obviously if you are a photographer, and you need to edit thousands of photos, then maybe this won’t work as well, but you would structure your days differently. This type of task works very well to help you chip away at goals that seem overwhelming and give you something to start with.
So, what is your goal and what are the first few steps you can take?
Start your to-do list right now with these tasks:
- Write down my goal/project I want to accomplish
- Write down the first part of that goal
- Break that down into 10 very achievable 5 min tasks
- Check off the first task
I’m sure you can go from there. Good luck, and please comment or email me with what you are working on to help keep yourself accountable!
Until next time, always be creating.