Take baby steps toward improvement

When you are really behind, small gains in efficiency and time management may not make much sense to you. While those efforts add up to real improvement, you probably feel like you don’t have the time to take baby steps: You need a major change—and you need it now.

On the contrary, small steps are the only way out when you are way behind. Instead of looking for a quick fix, make the following changes, and commit to making realistic progress:

  • Prove that you can do it. Overcome one small challenge to prove to yourself that change is both possible and beneficial. Once you see that you can tackle a problem or meet a goal, you will have the confidence to do it again and again.
  • Prioritize. If you are facing a backlog of tasks, pick a few items that you can dig into right away. Choose ones that will have an immediate, appreciable impact.
  • Don’t get ahead of yourself. Once you have a few small wins under your belt, will you be ready to tackle a massive overhaul of the way you work? Instead of committing to revising every practice within the next month, keep identifying high-priority, high-impact steps you can take now. They will add up to big change.
  • Share your strategy. Others may be as frustrated as you are with your former ways of working. Let everyone know that you are making lasting improvements. Acknowledge the time that doing so will take: “I may have 999 miles to go, but I am picking up my pace.” Who knows? You may inspire others to do the same.

— Adapted from “There Is No Big Fix,” Projects @Work Newsletter, http://www.projectsatwork.com.

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