Motivation Monday, Projects

5 Tips for Overcoming Insurmountable 1st Steps

Many weeks, my Mondays start with me thinking:

“It’s 9:00 AM! Why haven’t I had breakfast, responded to all my email, played with my kids for an hour, exercised for 45 minutes, meditated, showered, shared a dynamic conversation over coffee with my husband, and planned my whole week? I’m such a failure!”

My expectations are a teensy-weency bit unrealistic.

The only reason that this is a problem is that once I’ve started getting down on myself, I tend to have a hard time getting started on the things I want and need to do. For my business, I frequently need to process memberships, order merchandise, and take care of routine accounting tasks, but when I sit down at my desk, I’m so overwhelmed by all I have to do that sometimes I don’t get any of it done!

These are some strategies I use to help myself overcome the weight of the greatest insurmountable first step – getting started!

  1. Make a playlist

Upbeat music is remarkably helpful for getting you started actually doing something. I find I can’t focus when I’m listening to people talking, so even though I love listening and learning from podcasts, when I need to get stuff done, I listen to music. Some of my favorite songs are on our 3:30 Project playlist on Spotify.

Spotify is a great tool because you can create your own custom playlists or listen to playlists other people have made!

2.  Do SOMETHING early in the day

My workday doesn’t usually begin until about 1:00 in the afternoon, which I know is a little unusual. But what I’ve found is that I still need to do some work that gets me closer to a goal or takes care of an important task early in the day. If I don’t, I tend to feel like, “well, today’s been a waste, let’s try again tomorrow.” I recognize that this is not true, but it’s easier for me to keep the momentum going than to try to start from scratch later in the day.

3. Prioritize your to-do list

Stephen Covey talks about the importance of differentiating between what is urgent and what is most important. Responding to emails, texts and phone calls can take over your day because those feel urgent. We can get carried away taking care of other people’s priorities and missing our own. Make sure you know what your most important task for the day is an get to that first rather than putting it off – even in favor of shorter tasks that can be checked off your list quickly.

4. Break down big projects into smaller steps

I often get hung up on multi-step tasks because I over-chunk it. For example, earlier this year I was working on filing my corporate tax return. And when I thought “TAX RETURN” I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. But, when I broke it down into smaller steps (ex. collect documents from 2016, print out statements from banks, charities and loans, download software, etc.), I was able to make some incremental progress, which gave me momentum in taking care of the big task. I find it remarkable how much a little forward progress can give me the motivation to keep going on a big project.

5. Give yourself credit for the progress you’ve made

Often I wait until I’m totally done with a project to give myself a pat on the back. But when you withhold praise from yourself, you’re less likely to keep going and making progress. You deserve to feel good for the progress you’ve made – even if it’s just a little bit. So, even if you just did one teeny-weeny-iddi-bitty little thing, it’s progress that you can build on! Great job!


Do you have any great tips for getting started and making progress on Mondays? I’m always on the look out for ways to be more productive! Leave your tips in the comments section!


1 thought on “5 Tips for Overcoming Insurmountable 1st Steps”

  1. Reblogged this on On the Banks and commented:

    I often find myself overwhelmed by getting started on an important or new task.

    For example, I recently got a new pair of glasses, which I’ve needed for about a year. I kept getting held up at the first step – calling to make an appointment – because my former eye doctor had closed her office.

    These are some tips for over coming those “insurmountable” first steps!


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