Stop Procrastinating: Write Down the Simple Next Steps.

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When I notice myself procrastinating, here's a simple process that helps me get unstuck:

At the beginning of a work hour, I write down the project I'd like to make progress on, and three simple next steps I can easily take.

The key is to write it down. We try to keep too much in our heads. Our brains are not built for remembering lots of details. Instead of trying to hold ideas in your head, just write it down, so that you can liberate your mental energy for creativity.
Also, it's important to keep the written steps doable. If you find yourself still procrastinating on those "simple steps", you need to write down easier or smaller steps.

Here's my template:

By the end of this hour, I'm going to do...

[Doable Project]

The simple next steps are:

[Step 1]

[Step 2]

[Step 3]

...then I take action on Step 1.



By the end of the hour, I'm going to:

Publish this new blog post.

The simple next steps are:

1. Outline what must be said in this blog post.

2. Start writing whatever comes to mind.

3. Go back and edit what I've written.


Another example...

By the end of the hour, I'm going to:

Send marketing materials for a webinar to a promotional partner.

The simple next steps are:

1. Review the email she sent me.

2. Write down the pathway that a participant would take to sign up.

3. Imagine the participant's experience, and what would she need to see?

[There are more than three steps needed before this project is complete... but I just write down the first 3 steps, and get going. Then I can repeat the process to make more progress.]


I invite you to try this exercise now.

If you'd like, comment below, so that others can be encouraged by your example, and to give you some social accountability.


As you finish the steps, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment, and you might be in flow by that point... which makes it easier to keep taking steps forward!

Try this exercise anytime you feel procrastination coming on. Keep repeating this process (write down project; write simple next steps) until your project is complete.

Again, the key is to write it down.

Advanced Tip: If I want more clarity and motivation, I'll write down how many minutes each step might take, and then I time myself (free timer app) to see if my prediction was close. Putting a time limit on an action tends to make us more awake, and productive. It helps us gradually learn how long various tasks actually take us.

I look forward to hearing about how you apply this technique!