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20 Sep

The real advantage of the next step

Datum: 2021-09-20 18:38

In order to progress in a project or with a more exten­sive task, we make sure to always have a next step clear­ly defined. It might sound obvi­ous. But do we always adhere to this sim­ple rule?

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful and sim­pli­fy­ing when a project or task appears unman­age­able and ambigu­ous. Since a few weeks back I am involved in a project which is exten­sive, some­what unclear and explorative.

Since this is the first time we have tried some­thing like what the project entails, there is no man­u­al or deter­mined plan. I have grad­u­al­ly defined the next step in the form of to-do-tasks as the project has pro­gressed, com­plet­ed them and checked them off my list.

Trans­form stag­na­tion into motion
As I had just ticked the most recent next step off my list the oth­er day, I did not define a new next step right away, but left my office and left it for lat­er. But after a lit­tle while I noticed how I was still think­ing about the project.

It sud­den­ly felt dif­fi­cult and labo­ri­ous, and now it felt as if the whole thing was pend­ing. I was not able to let go of it entire­ly. The mere though of what we had ahead of us felt over­whelm­ing, and the zest and entu­si­asm that I had pre­vi­ous­ly felt had com­plete­ly vanished.

But, as soon as I decid­ed what the next, small step should be, my entu­si­asm returned. I imme­di­ate­ly start­ed think­ing of when I would be able to take the step (”prefer­ably right now!”), and I felt ener­gized again.

A first step is all it takes
This expe­ri­ence made me see even clear­er what I need to progress:

  • A next step for every project.

  • If I still post­pone tak­ing or doing what this next step entails, then define an even small­er next step before the one I orig­i­nal­ly decid­ed to do.

That’s it.

And if you are some­what like me and most oth­er peo­ple I meet through my work, this applies to you as well.

Do this
Look through your project-overview.

  • Have you defined a next step for every project? If not, think of one.

  • Do you have a project that has stag­nat­ed and which you feel stuck in? Think of a small­er next step.

That is all.

Con­tin­u­ous motion is preferable
If you always have a next step defined for every project or task you want to com­plete, and if you define an even small­er step if you get stuck with some­thing, you will con­tin­ue pro­gress­ing. It is like dri­ving. You need to switch to a low­er gear when going uphill, and before you know it you have reached the top of the hill and can con­tin­ue driving.
You will post­pone few­er things and will not feel as stressed as dead­lines draw near.

What is your method?
How do you make sure that you are always mov­ing for­ward in all your projects, tasks and engage­ments? Share your expe­ri­ences with me.