With all due respect to Nike, sometimes “Just Do It” is easier said than done. Often (and more often than I’d like to admit) when I’m facing a big project, my gut reaction is to shut down, stare into space and deeply, deeply panic. Not so useful.
Years ago, when I moved into my first condo, my Mom came out to help me get moved in. I signed the papers, the movers brought the boxes in and, faced with unpacking everything and putting it away in my brand new space, I very quietly freaked the hell out.
Well, thank goodness for mothers. Mine in particular. She broke down a system for me that has continued to help me ever since. Here it is, straight from the genius of Mama Krawczyk.
Step 1: Make a Decision
Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to accomplish a give task, you know what you need to do right? So, start with making the decision to do it. At this point, you don’t need to have a plan, you just need to decide that somehow, someway you’re going to do it.
That could be as big as “I am going to become a copywriter” or, the equally big, but more concrete “I really need to draft this first pitch.”
Commit to doing the work, whatever the work may be.
Step 2: Set Goals
Once you have your goals in mind, you want to expand upon them. In the case of the moving into my condo, “get settled in” is a bit too broad. A better goal might be: “I’m going to have unpacked everything for the kitchen by tomorrow afternoon.” Again, how you’re going to do it is not yet important.
You want it to be specific (unpack the kitchen) so you can eventually create a plan of action, as well as time-based (by tomorrow afternoon).
If you’re following the method of setting SMART goals, you’ll also want it to be measurable, achievable, and relevant. So, to make it measurable I may add, “I’ll unpack all 7 boxes labeled kitchen.” The fact that I focused on one area, the kitchen, makes it more achievable. I know if I said I’ll unpack all 100 boxes by tomorrow afternoon, that’s not achievable for me and the time I have available. I also know having my kitchen supplies is a priority, which is why I made it first on my list.
As for relevant, unpacking my kitchen supplies relates to my bigger goal of settling into my house, so it makes sense to complete it. I may add “To achieve my goal of settling into my house, I will unpack 7 boxes labeled kitchen by tomorrow afternoon,” just to remind myself of why I’m doing this. You may do something similar: “To achieve my goal of X, I am going to do Y …”
Step 3: Get Your Resources Together
Gather everything you’d need to get the job done. For moving in, we’re probably talking about paper towels and cleaning supplies. For something like creating your online portfolio, we’re talking about laptop, any samples you may have, copy for your site, and even writing yourself a creative brief so you have it to refer back to during the entire project.
Your resources may also include people. Consider who is in your network. Is someone you went to high school with a graphic designer? Does your mailman’s daughter do web development? Is your mom’s colleague looking for a copywriter? Whatever the project, consider who is around you that you can talk with.
Step 4: Create a Plan of Action
By plan of action, we’re talking a miniature-step plan of action. Now, write down everything you have to do, but break it down into the tiniest possible steps you can. For moving in, my steps were things like: “Find the kitchen boxes. Open the kitchen boxes. Choose which box to unpack first. Unpack items. Recycle packing newspaper.”
We’re talking tiny steps here. The key is to make them so small that they’re easy to do and then cross off your list.
For creating your online portfolio it may be open web bowser. Browse portfolio templates for 20 minutes. Make pros/cons list. Decide on portfolio template.
You may find you need to add steps as you go along. That’s fine! Think of as many tiny steps as possible before you start and adjust as you go along.
Step 5: Attack the First Tiny Step
Now, all you have to do here is go through your plan one step at a time; don’t even think about the next step. Eventually, crossing off these tiny steps will accomplish some big things and you’ll get some momentum going.
And that’s the magic of working your way out of feeling utterly overwhelmed: you can do it one tiny step at a time to accomplish some really fantastically big goals.
So, now that you know the secrets, what are you going to work on? What are you going to decide to do for your Step 1? Let us know in the comments!
Last Updated on August 16, 2021 by Kate Sitarz