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The Science of Increasing Productivity: The Brainstorm Step Plan

Welcome back. In this lesson, we're going to go over a simple question that both can help you avoid overwhelm and make it easy to move forward with even big projects at work. But first, a brief story from my life. I remember once when I had a very clear goal. I wanted to write and produce a video on how to communicate effectively with your intimate partner. Yet, I had a few little problems. I knew nothing about how to write such a video, nor how to produce it… In addition, I had no funds to make or market a video, and my partner at the time said I didn't know anything about how to communicate effectively. As I thought about all the things I needed to learn to make the video, I felt hopeless and overwhelmed. I didn't know where to begin, so I just did nothing. Then a thought occurred to me. I wrote down a simple question that immediately got me back into action. The question was, "What are three simple things I could do that would move this project forward?" By focusing on those three simple things, I found the problems I was facing didn't feel as overwhelming. To make a long story short, I soon got back into action. Each week I would ask myself again the same question, "What are 3 small steps I can do this week that would move this project forward?" Finally, in 1990 the video was completed. It ended up becoming an international bestseller. In fact, this video became so popular that it was even featured in Newsweek magazine.

It's common for our minds to get overwhelmed when we think about all the things a project requires. However, if you list three simple steps that could move a project forward, it's easier to get into effective action. Coming up with a list of easy to do tasks is a great way to overcome the paralysis of analysis.

So right now, sit up straight in your chair, take a deep breath, and then let it out with a long, slow sigh.


Right now, choose one goal or project you have at work and ask yourself, "What are three simple steps I could do to move this project forward?" Make sure that none of the steps you list seem overwhelming for you. In fact, You might make the steps smaller by limiting the amount of time you take with each step. For example, you might say, "I'll clean my office for at least 30 minutes this week," or I will work on my taxes a minimum of one hour this week. By giving yourself clear, easy steps to take that you can truly accomplish, it will encourage you to keep moving forward. So, take a minute or two right now to write your answers down and make sure you begin acting on at least one of those steps before the day is over.

In the next session I'll discuss the importance of creating a great environment for achieving both peace of mind and increased productivity.

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Written by

Jonathan Robinson