Ten Ways to Change Your Behavior Immediately #8: Break it into Sub-Steps

One of the most common causes of procrastination is that the task at hand feels incredibly daunting – the project is so large that it seems impossible to complete.  Somehow even thinking about the project makes you feel tired!  When you imagine the project it feels like a giant monolith in your mind, leaving you unable to gain traction anywhere.  No wonder you don’t want to work on it!

Fortunately there is a very effective technique for dealing with this particular objection: break down the task into smaller components.  Starting from a large nebulous goal, make an exhaustive list of everything you need to accomplish to get there.  Figure out which step needs to happen first, and then break that one down into sub-steps as well.  Keep following this procedure until you get down to a single step that you can take immediately to get you closer to your goal.  This tiny step feels much more manageable now, doesn’t it?  (Note that if this sub-step still feels daunting, I’ll bet that you can break it down even further.)

Now that you have the first specific action you need to take, I want you to close your eyes and imagine doing the task.  Imagine it right down to the very motor actions that you need to execute: imagine moving your arms, your hands, speaking, walking, whatever is required to complete your task.  See yourself finish your task, and then imagine how good it will feel to have this step completed.  Once you have finished this visualization, accomplishing the actual task feels like second nature – you’re practically already done!