Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Little Rewards

As I've worked in my business over the years (and especially since I went full-time in my business), I've spent some time observing my behavior. This isn't only because I'm self-absorbed, but rather that I hope to find ways to make myself more efficient and effective at running my business.

One of the things I've uncovered is that I tend to have a lot of resistance to tackling what I perceive of as a big job. Lately, for example, my business website has gotten a little stale. The news blurbs hadn't been updated in almost a year. My portfolio of links didn't include a lot of my recent work. Even my listings of products and services didn't reflect what I could offer my clients.

Yes, I know "cobblers children -- no shoes".

My challenge was that it all seemed like too much. Every time I sat down to get the work done, I would freeze up thinking of how much there was to do. Of course, the longer I put it off, the more there was to get done. So, how did I get things back under control? Two techniques:

Chunk It Down and Small Rewards.

Of course, we're all familiar with the idea of "chunking it down" -- breaking a project down into its component parts and then tackling those smaller pieces as more manageable tasks. I actually took it a step further. Based on a blog post I had read on "Escape from Cubicle Nation", I took even these small goals and broke them down even further until what I had was so trivially easy it was almost insulting. For example, on of the projects was to "Update the News". I broke that down to "Write a news blurb". Then I broke that down even further to "Spend 10 minutes on writing a news blurb."

Ten minutes was so simple I almost didn't have an excuse not to do it. Of course, that still didn't get me all the way there. Just because it was easy didn't mean I had an emotional investment in getting it done. That's where the "Small Rewards" came in.

I'm a comic book collector. Every week I buy up to ten new comic books. My reward for spending those ten minutes working on my website was to read one comic book. If I didn't, then the books just stacked up in my closet. I'll tell you, things got done pretty quickly and my site is almost up to date.

My next task? Moving my site to a new hosting service.

So, how do you motivate yourself to tackle those larger tasks?

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