It’s a short workweek here in the States – Monday is Labor Day – and I chose today’s topic to pair up with that.
Because it’s common, in a short week, that:
- We have the same amount of work to do, but less time in which to do it.
- We struggle to get back into gear after the bonus day off.
That’s a tricky mix, and today’s tip will help with both.
I won’t promise that this tip will “10x your productivity” or “supercharge your revenue.” (Clearly, all the growthboyz Twitter threads are starting to get to me.)
But it’s a simple guide I turn to when I’m stuck.
And we all get stuck at times. We spin our wheels or we freeze up. We get into that odd spot where we (1) have a lot to do and (2) don’t know what to do next.
In those moments, I turn to four short words to help me get unstuck:
“The Best Small Thing”
This is my shorthand for a slightly longer question:
“What’s the best small thing I could do right now?”
The focus here is on “small” and “best.”
“Small” is based on a psychological principle: Once you’ve started something, it’s easier to continue doing it. So: Make it as easy as possible to start. One way to do that is to make the thing small.
You’ve probably seen the advice to “start with five minutes of exercise.” That’s rooted in this principle. If you can do five minutes, you can do five more, and the next thing you know, you’ve done 30.
This is also why I recommend breaking any project down into its smallest possible elements. The newsletter you’re reading right now is barely 500 words, but it’s the product of eight small steps.
When something feels large, make it small.
“Best” is, admittedly, a bit of a subjective call. But in my experience, the best thing to do is either a top-priority task or a complete break.
Whenever possible, I start my day with a list of no more than three top priorities (usually fewer). Pro-tip: Make this list the night before, and you won’t have to spend any mental energy figuring it out during the day.
Deciding on the best thing to do is as simple as glancing at this short list.
Other times, though, you’ll check in with yourself and realize that a break is what you need.
A 30-minute walk outside can completely shift your perspective. Same goes for reading for pleasure or journaling.
When you hit a wall, there’s no law that says you have to run right through it. Step away. See if the wall is still there when you return.
The quick summary:
- Make it easy to get started by making things small.
- Simplify your choice for the best thing to do – either a top priority or a clean break.
In closing, a suggestion:
Put “The Best Small Thing” at the top of your to-do list or on a Post-it in your workspace. (Lately, I’ve made it a recurring task on my Todoist app.) See if this little reminder doesn’t help you get unstuck.
Your time is valuable, and I hope I’ve rewarded it. If so, your shares are greatly appreciated, as I try to spread the gospel to as many freelancers as possible.
Need help prioritizing or breaking big things down? I have a limited number of slots available for 1-1 coaching. Click here to find out more about how my customized coaching can help you level up.
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