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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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How to Make Next Smaller and Actually Feel Wonderful

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You know the feeling. Our sea of to dos, projects, and lists overwhelms and paralyzes us. We feel deflated or defeated before we’ve taken action. No matter how much we’ve accomplished, we’re convinced we’ll never get organized or be done.

Last week I wrote about the value of taking a breath and pausing. Let’s add another strategy, the idea of going “smaller,” to our conversation about next.

Do you want to feel wonderful instead of overwhelmed? One effective technique is to make “next” smaller. Hold the big picture in view yet focus on that next tiny action step that will bring you closer to your goal.

Let’s say you want to organize all the papers in your home. They’re around the house in piles, bags and bins. The sheer volume is overwhelming. Break down the large project into smaller ones. Organize one room at a time. If one room is overwhelming, go smaller. Try one drawer or stack at a time. If that’s still too big, think even smaller and decide about one paper at a time. Make the next step small enough to motivate forward movement.

Here’s what will happen. With each decision you’ll get closer to your goal and experience a mini success. Do that happy dance. With each decision, you’ll feel better (wonderful in fact,) and less overwhelmed.

How do we eat an apple? If we attempt to devour the entire apple in one single bite, we’ll choke. Instead by taking one small, manageable bite at a time, we’re able to enjoy our snack with the energy to continue on.

What will next look like for you? How small can you make your next step? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (10)

Making tasks smaller and more manageable makes tasks do-able. I think we all get overwhelmed at some time, but it's in chunking things down to baby steps that any think can be accomplished.

Love your bite size approach!

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- Oh, yes! The "chunking things down to baby steps" approach definitely reduces overwhelm and increase do-ability. Thanks for enjoying the "bite."

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

This is so true! Large projects, especially ones we aren't quite sure how to do, are incredibly intimidating. The "go to" reaction to overwhelm is procrastination. Instead, make the task small enough to quell the anxiety. I may not know how to complete the project, but I do know how to make a call and ask the first question.

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

Seana- Love your phrase choice, "quell the anxiety," and the description that while we may not know ALL the steps to reach completion, we can identify the next small one to get us that much closer. Fantastic!

March 24, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Sometimes I get overwhelmed looking at the week ahead, so I take a step back and focus on the day I am in. This helps to take my mind off of the volume of what has to be accomplished.

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

This is a wonderful post, Linda! Breaking projects down into small manageable steps is a concept I bring to all my clients. I also talk about backwards planning. This involves taking the vision of what the finished project looks like and working backwards, step by step, until you arrive at the smallest possible first step. This can help define the scope and sequence of the project and make the end result attainable.

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

Little by little is the smart way to accomplish big things in life. It's like a recipe, I never put all the vegetables at one time in the pot, first I put some oil, then some onion followed by garlic, and then I add carrots, zucchini, potato or so, the water, the salt, the spices, etc. If we learn to break down big tasks into smaller ones and get focus on the task number one, will be more easy to go through task two, task three and so on. Divide and rule.

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

As I recently said in my coaching group, I'd rather set three small goals and accomplish them all than a big one and have nothing to show for it.

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Linda, love the reminder to go small. After being on vacation for 8 days and returning home sick and struggling through the next 8 days, I find myself faced with a pretty sizable list. Going small is what is keeping me going this month. Tiny next steps and even using a tiny to do list at times - no more than a couple of items on a tiny post-it note is helping to keep me focused and moving forward, slowly but surely.

March 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

Loving the conversation, folks! Thanks so much for joining us.

@Jill- Knowing how much we can take in at a time without getting overwhelmed is so important. It's great that you've figured out that focusing on smaller time increments (day instead of week) works well for you.

@Diane- What an interesting technique you shared about working a project backwards. I guess that's what they mean when they say, "begin with the end in mind."

@Nacho- Love your cooking analogy! I never thought of it that way, but how right you are that we add ingredients in stages, not all at once (focusing on each one as we go.) By taking those small steps we end up with a delicious dish.

@Janet- Knowing when to make the goal or step smaller is the key. Sounds like you're getting a lot out of your coaching group work.

@Andrea- Welcome back from vacation! Sorry that you were sick and hope you're feeling better. I totally understand about the value of getting away. As you experienced, coming home can be overwhelming because of the to dos that have piled up. Love your strategy of keeping your to dos super small on a very tiny post it. Sometimes I bring out my "special" post its when I'm feeling similarly (overwhelmed.) They say, "I will do one thing today." Then there's a space below that says, "thing:" and a place to write the one thing. A true way to activate the tiny step concept.

March 24, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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