In our last time management tip, I talked about using the Power of Three to narrow your 'to do' list down to three "must do" items so that if you accomplish nothing else during the day, you will still feel as if your day was productive.
But even breaking your list down to a manageable number may not solve your problem if your three tasks are actually three projects, each requiring multiple steps to complete. That's where the concept of 'next actions,' from David Allen's Getting Things Done comes into play.
I have a friend who likes to use the expression, "Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard."
Sometimes it's tough to be productive when you're looking at an entire project; it can become overwhelming, particularly if you fall into the trap of believing that you need to devote a large chunk of time to the project because it's so involved.
Instead, change your mindset by breaking the project down into the smallest pieces you possibly can: the next actions.
What is the very next thing that you need to do in order to move the project forward? Do you need to find the file? Do some research to get more information? Sit down and do some planning? Brainstorm for ideas? Create an outline? Make a phone call?
Pinpoint the very next thing that needs to be done and determine the smallest step that you can take. Just take that one single step (or consider that step one of your three tasks for the day).
A series of tiny steps will take you further than you could have imagined.