Sometimes, life and our list of things that need to or we’d like to get done can feel overwhelming. It could be decorating our home, paying off debt, start exercising, or clean that messy room. I recently ran across a great concept that is so simple yet makes so much sense for helping this “list” to feel more manageable. What is it? It’s all about starting small.
Let’s take, for example, your desire to clean that messy room. According to the FlyLady’s The 5-Minute Room Rescue, you should set your timer for five minutes and clean as much of that room as you can within that time period. Once the buzzer goes off, you stop. What will inevitably happen is that you feel accomplished because you are surprised at what you were able to get done in just five minutes. This creates a motivation to either clean for longer than five minutes or if you literally have no more time, you are more likely to go back and finish cleaning that room.
Let’s now look at something a little more daunting – decorating your home. This could include everything from new furniture to hanging pictures to painting walls. Whether it is all or some of these, it is a lot to take in. According to David Allen of Getting Things Done, it is important to set goals within reach, otherwise, we will feel like a failure and never get the task done.
What are the goals within reach? Perhaps we can first set the goal of painting one room. That seems manageable, but there is a lot involved. You must pick the brand of paint, the color and where you want to buy it. Then you need to measure the room to determine how much paint you need, buy the supplies, move the furniture, cover the furniture, place painter’s tape in the appropriate places, paint, let the paint dry, move the furniture back. Phew! That’s a lot! However, each task sounds much more manageable that “painting the room.” Maybe you can make it your goal to pick the paint by the end of the weekend. Perhaps on Wednesday after work, you can measure the room to determine how much paint you need and on Friday, you can get the paint and all the supplies so you can start to paint that next weekend.
At the end of the day, it’s all about making a small dent in a seemingly daunting task, which gives us the motivation to keep moving toward accomplishing our goal.
Chip and Dan Heath wrote a great blog about this concept, which they address in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. This book is fantastic, easy to read, and filled with many helpful tips that can be applied to many aspects of life.