That’s the premise of this article in Fast Company, Made to Stick: Set Smaller Goals, Get Bigger Results.
In order to overcome problems and difficulties that you face, the article recommends setting strict, short time limits on taking action that can lead to improvement. Whether it is tackling a big cleaning job, doing expenses, or praising others, this article has recommendations on how to deal with it in short bursts.
To this I would add a few things:
- Be prepared to actually quit after your time limit. For example, on days when I dread going for a run, I tell myself: just go for 10 minutes, and if after 10 minutes you want to quit, then quit. 99% of the time, I will get outside and once I get going, I will keep going. But there have been times when it has been too cold, or I am too tired, and I do quit and I am ok with that. You should be too. Otherwise, you might talk yourself out of starting in the first place. Hey, sometimes you have to know when to retreat and regroup before you resume the charge.
- If you know the job is never going to get done in 5 minutes, do this: take the 5 minutes to list the things you have to do. Now you have a plan. Great! The first thing on your plan should be a short activity. For example, if the big job is clean out the basement (or garage, storage closet, etc.), perhaps the first task should be: take 5 minutes to throw out as much garbage as possible. I find when taking on a big job, the more you can eliminate unnecessary things, the simpler the task at hand will be, and the easier it will be for you to focus on what is next.
(Photo of man getting a free five minute massage courtesy of Rasmussen College – Green Bay’s photostream on flickr. See, you can even be more relaxed in just five minutes! :) )