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Would you like to stop procrastination and increase productivity?

Would you like to get more done in less time?

I am going to focus on one simple yet very powerful idea. It revolves around the question, “What’s the next step?” or “What’s the next action?”

Most of the time when you are procrastinating, spinning your wheels, or feeling overwhelmed, you haven’t defined the next action. The “next action” is the next tangible action that would move you forward on a particular project and toward the outcome you desire.

A tangible action is something you could see yourself doing. A “next action” is distinct from a “project” and an “outcome” but you probably confuse these things on a regular basis. A “project” is anything that will take more than one action to complete. An “outcome” is the result you intend to get from an action or project.

With some projects (e.g., remodeling the kitchen) and some outcomes (e.g., launch my web page) it is obvious that many action steps will be involved. With more simple projects it’s not always so obvious.

Here’s an example. You need to get the brakes fixed on your car, so you put “get brakes fixed” on your to do list. What you have actually defined is an “outcome” or “project”, not an “action”. It is likely that you will now procrastinate taking action on this project since you haven’t defined the next action.

What if you took this project (get brakes fixed) and asked yourself – “What is the next action?” Your answer might be something like – “Call Mike the mechanic and make an appointment.” or “Email Jim and Sally and ask them if they can recommend a good mechanic.”

Do you see the difference? Sometimes it is subtle and it may seem insignificant, however, I promise you that sometimes this subtle difference will determine whether you move forward or get stalled on a particular project.

Which of these would you be more likely to procrastinate? 1) Launch my web page; or 2) Call my web designer and make an appointment?

What are you putting off?  Have you defined the next action step?

Stay tuned for more on this topic in next week’s blog post.

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