Finding time to be as productive as possible means taking the first step many, many times, as you work on different projects and tasks. Whether it’s big or small, long-term or short-term, the toughest moment in any project or activity is taking the first actual action step.
There are traditional methods for overcoming the hurdle of the first step, and they vary from one person to the next. For example, many say that the best way to get mobilized is to sit down and write an outline of your project. However, in the initial stages of many projects, it’s possible to get stuck if you go this route. That’s because so many elements remain uncertain in complex, multi-step projects that outlining isn’t easy or productive.
Other people highly recommend a Zero Draft. They believe you should simply start writing, not thinking about spelling, format or structure. Once you have something on the blank page, they reason, it’s easy to edit.
Neither of these approaches uses your time wisely.
So, what other options are there? I recommend that you begin a project at the end – defining desired outcomes.
Identifying your goal allows you to effectively visualize the overall result. You don’t become mired in the specific details of the topics you need to address, the resources you must consult, or the particular methods you will use.
Instead, with this definition of desired outcomes, you give yourself the framework of your project. Once the outcomes are defined, you can work backwards to lay out the needed action steps.
How does starting by defining desired outcomes ‘find time’ for you? You are engaging in a form of goal setting that is flexible. You avoid false starts, going off on tangents, or feeling obligated to follow traditional steps in order to achieve your optimal results.
When you give yourself permission to define the desired outcomes in terms of what you want, you activate your powers of visualization. You are then able to give yourself a very clear picture of what you plan to create. From that picture, your first step will emerge organically.
Try it and see. If you are willing to experiment with this alternative to writing outlines and Zero Drafts, you will begin your project with the two most useful states of mind: “awareness” of what you want, and “flexibility” in how you achieve it.
Ready to take that first step? When you free yourself from the obligation to follow the rules and give yourself the gift of clarity about your desired outcome, you won’t need to “figure out” where to start – you will know. Your first step will be right there in front of you, ready for you to take it!
Experiment with this alternative approach. The creative focus you develop through this process will enhance your power and effectiveness.© Copyright 2011 Paula Eder, Ph.D.