You end each day feeling pretty productive—as long as you let your eyes skip over that one giant, looming project that’s been obnoxiously hanging out on your to-do list for weeks.
We’ve all been there. There’s no denying that the daunting project you continue pushing to the back burner is going to need to be accomplished eventually. But, it’s working up the courage to actually get started on that to-do item that often gets in our way.
Every time you try to make a start, you end up staring at a blank page and then convincing yourself that now isn’t the right time. So, you leave yourself with an impending deadline and a project that remains untouched.
But, there’s a better (and less stressful) way to cope. Use these six steps, and you’re sure to make progress on those challenging projects that keep hanging over your head.
1. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Everybody could use a rousing pep talk to inspire them every now and then—so why not give one to yourself?
Beyond working yourself up to actually grab the reins and get started, this is also a good opportunity to determine what exactly is holding you back from beginning that project.
Does it seem too large and overwhelming? Is it a task you simply don’t enjoy? Is the deadline too tight? Zoning in on the reasoning behind why you keep pushing it off will be helpful when you work your way through the next steps.
2. Force Yourself to Commit
Sometimes you just need to get started. And, while there’s no denying that can take a lot of willpower, physically locking yourself away will be helpful in ensuring that you actually start making some progress.
Shut yourself in a quiet room with only the things you need for that project. Do your best to stay away from the lure of your phone notifications or your inbox, and at least do something related to that big task—even if it’s just getting all your thoughts scribbled on paper.
Even if you’re slow to start, knowing that you’re at least getting the ball rolling is usually enough to inspire you to keep pushing forward.
3. Break it Down
One big reason that we often continue to delay projects is because they simply seem too daunting. They’re so large and overwhelming, we can hardly figure out the best place to start.
When you do finally sit down to make some progress on that project, the best place to start is by breaking it down into smaller milestones. What bite-sized chunks can you separate it into?
If you’re putting together a big presentation, for example, maybe you’ll break it down into stages—such as completing an outline, fleshing out the different sections, and then finally translating that information into slides.
Doing this instantly makes that daunting project feel at least a little more manageable—making you that much more likely to actually make some progress, even if it’s in baby steps.
4. Find the Right Timing
You’ll read a lot of advice that recommends you tackle those cringe-worthy tasks or projects first thing in the morning. And, I can understand the benefit in getting those things out of your way.
But, everybody’s different in this regard. If you’re not at your most focused or energized in the morning hours, it’ll be that much more challenging to talk yourself into actually getting started.
So, instead, I recommend finding the times of day when you feel most ready to take on those overwhelming things. Whether it’s as soon as you wake up or late into the evening hours, working at your peak times will help the whole process seem a little less dreadful.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you hear the phrase “ask for help” and immediately assume it equates to passing the buck, it’s time to think again. Requesting help doesn’t mean you need to shirk responsibility.
As a matter of fact, calling in some reinforcements can be helpful in inspiring you to actually take some forward steps on that project you’ve continued to push off.
Whether you just want to bounce some ideas around with someone or get some early feedback on a piece of your project, involving other people motivates you, provides a sense of accountability, and ultimately improves the quality of your end product.
6. Stay Focused on the Finish Line
Yes, I know that slowly making your way through that seemingly endless project can feel a lot like trudging your way through knee-deep wet concrete. However, in those moments when you feel completely discouraged, focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.
You know how rewarding it is to finally cross that monster off your to-do list. So, always keep that in your mind. Your hard work will be more than worth it when you finally get to bid this groan-worthy project adieu.
We all have those projects or tasks that we dread tackling—which means they continue to get bumped further and further down your to-do list.
But, no more! Use these six steps, and you’ll have those overwhelming assignments out of your way sooner rather than later.
By Kat Boogaard of Inc. | The Muse