How to avoid overwhelm and complete projects

Whenever you have a deadline, somehow, you’re able to get the job done working right up to the deadline. But other projects never seem to get done.

We need to complete projects that are urgent, but projects that are very important but not so urgent often get left for tomorrow (and maybe never!). How do we get these projects going and how can we sustain them over the long term?

The answer: the bare minimum approach (BMA).

Bare Minimum Approach

This approach is a bit counter-intuitive. It’s not about achieving your big goals. Instead, it’s chipping away at small wins.

What is the bare minimum approach?

The best way to describe it is by describing an analogy — like a progress indicator on a video — knowing we have made progress is motivating.

You can do this by breaking down a large complex project into smaller bite size tasks that can be done in a reasonable amount of time.

Then the next problem is getting to start these tasks. Which is where triggers come in.

How to use triggers

You know how it works, right? You have a reminder on your calendar or to do list, but as the reminder pops up, you defer it.

The way around this is to have no reminder at all. Instead, you start when something else happens – a trigger. For example, when you start your computer first thing in the morning, you start with the first task on the list. Don’t check your emails or anything else – use that as a reward for completing the first task.

This requires you to do something last thing before shutting down your computer the night before – you set up your list of tasks for tomorrow.

So you set a trigger, do a task and get a reward

Set deadlines

We tend to procrastinate on things that don’t have a deadline.

So set a deadline and then we feel compelled to get on with it. And doing just the bare minimum tasks one by one keeps a big project going and gets it done.

At the end of the day reflect on what you have completed – it is motivating to see your achievements, and removes the feeling of overwhelm.

Try the Bare Minimum Approach.

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