Procrastination; the Big Bad Wolf in our fairy tale life. The Godzilla in our own personal Tokyo. Put off that slavering, monstrous task and it only gets bigger and badder. As the behemoth bloats so does your anxiety, your shame, and your desire to find a hole to hide in … anything to avoid the red-eyed, demon task. That means yet more procrastination, and soon you find yourself quivering under the bed in the fetal position. Not good times.
What you need, my friend, is an erstwhile hero who can slay the beast, or at least kick it in the shins and give it a wedgie. Enter our hero, the mini-goal. Here’s how it works. Set yourself a laughably small David of a goal that will at least hurl a wee pebble at that Goliath of a task looming over you. Your mini-goal should be an easy first step, something that takes ten minutes or less to accomplish. It should be something you can’t possibly fail at. Example: The evil twenty-page research paper is huffing and puffing at your door. Hours of library research followed by days of writing and rewriting hangs over you like the claw of Mothra. Mini-goal to the rescue. “I’ll look up one likely research source at the library. I mean, how hard is it to lay my hands on one measly source in the next ten minutes?” You’ll soon find yourself out of the fetal position and browsing the library shelves. In short, NOT procrastinating.
Where do Mini-Goal’s Super Powers Come From?
A mini-goal takes the behemoth task and chips off a tiny tasklet. That makes it easy to get started, and getting started means you’re no longer procrastinating. Further more, poking that yellow-fanged task in the eye with a mini-goal makes you realize it can be defeated starting you on the road to kicking it’s gargantuan booty back to the pit from whence it came.
Mini-Goals Come in Three Different Flavors
- Timed Mini-Goals – Bust out that rarely-used timer feature on your cell phone or digital watch and set a simple time limit. I do this with my kids around the house. Instead of taking on the massive, hairy task of cleaning the whole house, we do a ten-minute cleaning sprint. Everyone jumps right in and cleans like gang-busters for ten minutes. Short. Simple. Easily doable. I do it [hidepost]with myself as well. Getting to work on writing can be daunting, so I promise myself to write for at least five minutes. At the end of the five minutes I’ve built up a head of steam and can usually keep right on writing.
- Small Task Mini-Goals – You can also set your sights on a small amount of the total task to be done. And I do mean SMALL. Examples: Find one resource, wash three dishes, write three sentences, pick up five pieces of trash, work two problems.
- Mix-and-match Mini-Goals – Or why not mix the other two flavors; use time and task. Example; Write at least three sentences OR write for at least five minutes.
Whichever flavor you go with, remember, the goal is to pick something ridiculously easy to accomplish that will at least get you started. Pick a time, a simple task, or a combo of the two that will uncurl you from that fetal position and get you back in the fight.
Now Let the Momentum Carry You
Once you’ve administered a sound mini-goal crane kick to the Task That Ate Tokyo, you’ll feel a little rush. You’ll be tempted to go ahead and poke that beastie in the eye or administer a wedgie while you’re at it. Well go to it, my young apprentice, and may the force be with you. Keep on whacking away at that research paper. Grab another resource or two while you’re at the library. Finish out the paragraph. Keep on cleaning until that bathroom sparkles. Once you’ve started it’s easy to continue. With the help of the mini-goal procrastination will bow it’s head in shame and leave you master of your domain.[/hidepost]