Have you ever had a task that was simple, but gargantuan?  It’s going to take hours.  Days.  Weeks.

So you keep putting it off.

But it hangs over you like a dark cloud.

The story you tell yourself is that you’re not capable, you’re not good enough, you don’t care enough.  

So whatever it is, it stays undone, or in disarray, a reminder of your failure.

Yes?  That’s happened to you?

Now let me tell you a little story. 

I’m a person who loves physical magazines.  (Yes, seriously, in 2023.)  I have several magazine subscriptions.  Mostly food or cooking-related.  When I check the mail, and there’s a magazine in there, instead of just bills and junk, it’s a little dopamine hit.  I have a little something to look forward to later.  I’ll savor it.

Anyway, I’ve been getting food magazines for 20+ years.  And I like to clip the recipes that look good.  For years, I stored these recipes in a physical accordion file, filed by type.  Meat, Fish, Pasta, Breakfast, Dessert, etc..  (I promise, I’m not a luddite!)

But, I realized many years into this that because everything else has gone digital in the intervening years, I was never actually referencing this treasure trove of recipes I’d been painstakingly clipping for years because it wasn’t searchable.  I’d been doing a pointless task.

And I didn’t want my work to be in vain.  And I actually wanted to try some of these recipes.

So I knew what I had to do. 

I had to digitize them.  I had to make them searchable.  I, essentially, had to make them accessible through my phone.

But, let me remind you, this was 20 years of recipes.  So let’s do the math.  Let’s say, conservatively, I have 3 monthly magazine subscriptions and I clip an average of 5 recipes from each one. 

That’s 3600 recipes to digitize!

(I literally never did that math until right now and I’m glad I didn’t because this project would have been even more daunting.)

In any case, I kept putting it off because:

  1. It didn’t seem that important and
  2. It was going to take A LONG TIME to digitize those recipes.

And every month, I’d clip more recipes, making the problem worse.

So I finally decided to do something about it. 

But I didn’t block off a whole bunch of time and do it at once. 

Instead, I told myself I was willing to commit 15 minutes a week to this project, for as long as it took to complete.

So every Sunday, for the better part of a year, I put on a podcast and started scanning.  I did at least 15 minutes a week, but sometimes more if it was a really good podcast, or I was really into an audiobook.

And you know what, I’m proud to say I no longer have that accordion file and all my recipes are digitized. 

And now, while I still get those magazines, recipes I want go straight to digital, no intermediary storage step.

And here’s the point. 

It’s not now or never.  It’s not all or nothing. 

There are many, many things in life we can tackle just a little bit at a time.

Want a few other examples?

  • One of my clients wanted to refold all the clothes in his closet the Marie Kondo way.
    • (Side note: I’m also a big fan of this method as it’s efficient in terms of space and makes it easy to see and access all your clothes.) 
    • But it was a big task.  Instead of tackling it all at once, he did it little by little, as the clean clothes came back to the closet from the laundry.  It took a few weeks.  But now it’s easy to maintain.
  • One of my clients wanted to rid her phone of no-longer-needed screenshots or random throwaway photos.
    • But there are THOUSANDS on her phone. 
    • So instead of waiting for when she’ll “have the time” to tackle this project, she decided to do 5 minutes a day, and take it one month at a time. 
    • So, today, she’ll take 5 minutes to rid September 2023 of unnecessary files.  And tomorrow, she’ll do October, and so on.  She doesn’t have to do it all at once to make progress.   And 5 minutes a day can easily fit into the life of this busy working mom. 
    • Sure it might be a few months till it’s all done.  But it’ll get done.
  • Decluttering! When my kids were little, we had SO MUCH STUFF in our house.
    • I didn’t buy most it it.  When you have small kids, somehow, the stuff in your house just multiplies.  It came in as gifts, as hand-me-downs, as birthday party favors, etc. 
    • And so, I decided that I wanted to declutter my house and get rid of all the crap.  But let’s remember, I had small kids (3 and 5 at the time), and a full-time job (at an office, with a commute (ahh, the horror!).  So I didn’t have TIME to declutter in one go. 
    • What I decided to do instead was to get rid of 5 things a day.  They could be tiny (a broken pen cap) or large (a piece of furniture), but it was 5 things a day. 
    • And it took about 9 months of this before I got to the point that I couldn’t find anything else to get rid of.  It was a low-effort, high-ROI decluttering method.  And it didn’t happen all at once.  It happened little by little.  But now it’s done. 
    • And after that experience, I was committed to never letting it get that bad again.  And so I have a maintenance system now.  I have a blue plastic tub outside my front door.  Whenever I see something in the house that we don’t need anymore (and that’s not broken, as that stuff goes immediately in the trash) I drop it in the bin.  When the bin is full, I take it to Goodwill.

So, tell me: 

What’s something that’s BIG that you’ve been procrastinating? 

Could you adopt a “little by little” approach?