We organizers like to talk about breaking big projects down into small steps in order to make them feel less overwhelming. That’s solid advice.
A little phrase that’s been going through my head a lot lately is “little and often,” something Mark Forster writes about in his books and something that’s really come to the forefront of my mind as I work with his Autofocus task-management system. Little and often simply means working on a project a little bit at a time, frequently (or at least regularly).
I think some of us—including me, particularly in the past—feel like we have to have a large chunk of time available to work on a large project before we can get started. Trouble is, that large chunk of time rarely becomes available. But if we apply the principle of little and often, we can chip away at the project bit by bit and get it done.
It can also be applied to routine tasks. If you wash what few dirty dishes you have every single day, you’re applying the principle of little and often. And you never have a big pile of dirty dishes to contend with. If you let them pile up until you have a whole sink (or dishwasher) full, it feels likes more work. And it’s more stressful to look at all those dirty dishes.
I raved about Autofocus last week. I’m even more enthusiastic now then I was then. A big part of the system (and I encourage you to go to Mark’s website system and sign up to become a beta tester so you can receive full instructions) is that you can cross an item off your list if you do just a tiny part of it. If you don’t finish it, you add it to the end of the list. This means that you’re getting started and often getting started is half the battle.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by a project, think of my new mantra, “little and often” and just do something. Then after awhile do more. If you keep repeating this you’ll get the project done. And, trust, me, it will be relatively painless.