Let’s admit it, working is often very hard. Whether you want to work on a project of yours or you’re trying to discipline your creativity, challenges often appear very hard, especially at the beginning. This can lead to never-ending procrastination. Unless we adopt a step-by-step technique to “trick” our mind and our lack of discipline.
The technique I’d like to talk about today is indeed very powerful. Part of its power comes from the fact that it doesn’t require a very high level of self discipline to work. The technique is meant to help people who normally struggle with commitment, as well as the ones among us who don’t have much time to spend on planning, nor have long hours to dedicate to their own projects.
The first step to define is of course the goal we want to reach. There are of course different types of goals (practical achievements i.e. writing a novel, personal goals i.e. getting fit, improvement plans i.e. designing and refining a productive work routine), and they all need a different approach. In this post we focus on the first type of goals, the so-called practical achievements.
So, let’s imagine we cultivate the dream of writing and we want to write a 30-page novel. Let’s say we’ve already tried several times to write something, but we always got stuck at a certain point and for a reason or another we always ended up dropping the project. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. 99% of the population experienced this type of “failures” (but are they really?). What about the remaining 1%? Uh well, they are the writers. And this is the good news: we can join that 1% too, what we need is a proper technique to put us on the right track.
Now, after reading these lines, try to imagine how completing a 30-page novel will be a huge boost for our self confidence as writers. If we can start a project of ours, work on it and bring it to the end, our self image will definitely benefit from it. Let alone the natural fulfilment that comes when we successfully complete a task…Enough said! Let’s start!
Step 1: Take a piece of paper, better if a big one, write down a title for your project, and then make 30 little circles, one after another, like this:
…Draw 30 little circles on your piece of paper.
Then, step 2: Put your piece of paper where you always see it (this means, where you can’t avoid it). Put it on your desk, hang it on the wall, make sure the piece of paper is in front of you as much as possible. Don’t trick yourself: this step is probably the most important for the final outcome. Don’t be self indulgent and place the paper so that it’s never out of sight when you work.
Step 3: Action! Each little circle, as you’ll probably have guessed, represents a page of your novel. Sure enough, you’ll have to write 30 pages, one after another. But you’ll do this by following a simple rule: every day, you will write exactly one page of your novel. Once you’ll have done it, you’ll mark a little circle on your paper. Important: This “rule” is also a restriction! Do NOT write more than 1 page a day for your novel. Even if you start getting in the “flow” and many ideas come to mind, write ONE page, mark it on your paper, and drop the project until the next day.
By doing this, you won’t exhaust yourself in one day by writing 3 hours straight. If you do so, chances are you’re not going back to your novel the day after. So please, let the calendar regulate the time and amount of work that you put in one project.
Notice that this strategy is meant to simplify your life without making you work too hard all at once. If you feel that one page/day is too much for you, put different rules. Also, the novel we used here is just an example. You can adapt this technique for any practical project you’re working on. Just divide any activity into 30 little pieces of work and proceed little by little, without losing contact with the calendar you created at the beginning.
This technique in three steps:
- Draw 30 circles on a piece of paper
- Put the piece of paper where you always see it
- Stick to the amount of work you defined at the beginning (i.e., one page/day).
This way you’ll also have the possibility to work on multiple projects at the same time, without ever feeling overwhelmed by any of those. Good luck!