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Is Your Start Button Stuck? Five Ways to Get Unstuck and Achieve Momentum

There is a lot in the media nowadays about procrastination and distractions – the types and kinds and whys – and how they hinder productivity, relationship closeness, common courtesy, and on and on and on. And yet, I will tell you one my little secrets, so ingrained in me that I was barely aware of it ….

My procrastinations and distractions, big and small, do not stem from a lack of confidence as I once thought. They are born out of the unknowing and chaotic confusion of where to start – a stuck Start Button.

How do you undo a stuck Start Button?

That seems like a silly question with an easy answer. You start at the beginning, of course. Or, in the case of my Mom teaching me how to solve mazes in a child’s puzzle book; you start from the end and work your way backward to the beginning or to where you were blocked. Actually, come to think of it, that was a common theme in my household growing up.

My Dad would often set the example by working backwards from when we had to be somewhere to determine when we had to leave. Funny, how we always left for the movies at the same time the movie was listed to start. I think he just didn’t want to sit through all the previews. So, starting at the beginning or the ending are ways I was taught while growing up.

Others say just start anywhere and the rest will fall into place. That’s the “just do it” approach.

Another common way is to start by breaking the task into small, attainable chunks. I perfected this one during my many years as a project manager.

Then, there’s the opposite way to start by doing the details first and grouping them into categories as you proceed. I recall writing term papers and backing into the outline. That was difficult when the outline had to be turned in first for approval.

Start with a limited timeframe and “a little bit at a time goes a long way” method are additional approaches. Set-the-timer-for-fifteen-minutes and when it goes off, the task is done for the day. Personally, this one doesn’t always work for me. Once I actually get started on something, it’s hard for me to stop. However, knowing it is only fifteen minutes can be a relief and jump start a stalled project. You can always reset the timer or just continue working once you have momentum.

A twist to this method is choosing a very small task to accomplish for the day. I apply this to weeding or cleaning up the garage. When waiting for the bus with my daughters, I do something small each day. Before long, the weeds are pulled or the garage is cleaner.

Use whatever approach seems appropriate for what you want to accomplish. The complexity of the project, your knowledge of what needs to be done, and your resistance vs. desire to accomplish it will help determine which way is best for you.

As an example, I have been putting off starting this blog for quite some time. Round and round my mind would go trying to figure out the wording, the format, what points to make, the frequency of the posts, and so forth. Journaling and writing about my ideas produced lots of notes, thoughts, and no actions.

Being frustrated and with a strong desire to start blogging, I took the “just do it” approach. And, here we are. This feels great! I’ve started and now the first one is done. The next one will be easier. So many more are waiting to burst forward into the blog-o-sphere. I’ve dipped my big toe into the waters and it is exhilarating, inviting, and fun.

Where is your Start Button stuck?

Utilize the summary tips below to get your Start Button unstuck to achieve momentum on anything you want to accomplish.

Summary Tips

  1. Start with end in mind and work backwards. Steven Covey and I recommend this as a good way start and to think outside the box.
  2. Start anywhere with the “just do it” approach. Beginning in the middle is better than not getting started at all.
  3. Start with categories and chunk them down into small, attainable, doable tasks. This method is the basis for managing most projects.
  4. Start with the details and group or categorize them together as you proceed. Opposite to #3 and may be harder to accomplish.
  5. Start with a limited timeframe and “a little bit at a time goes a long way” method. Set a timer to limit your time doing the task or choose a very small task to accomplish for the day.
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{ 1 comment }

Martha Carnahan December 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Good tips, Viki! I tend to be a “start in the middle” person myself…. And I also like the timer method.

Congrats on STARTing your new blog!

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