Projects get stalled for any number of reasons.

The advice to “just start” is close, but not quite right.

What’s missing? Find out below…

The dreaded project. You know the one. The one that’s just sitting there, not starting. Maybe it’s hiding in the closet, in the garage, under a pile of papers, or sitting in plain sight, quietly mocking…

For me, it was the balcony, its planks of wood sitting in disarray, after an emergency unclogging of a hidden drain.

Should I go fix it now?

<sigh> I’ve had a long day. Maybe I could just play a board game instead?

Getting started can be difficult. Whether it is a huge looming project, putting a check in the mail, or starting the dishes, somewhere there’s a hitch.

One useful recommendation from Getting Things Done is to consider a concrete next action, some small thing you can actually envision yourself doing next.

But sometimes, I’ll go even a step lighter.

Instead, I only:

Picture a next action

I don’t even have to do the work. I only picture it.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, my tasks complete, ready to relax, I saw the dreaded project… “Work on Balcony”.

We were stuck. We didn’t know if we had the bit needed to take out this one type of screw. Would we need to buy it?

So, I thought, what if I were to photograph the screw and take that to the hardware store?

So taking a photo was the next action.

Then I thought, Ok, it’s the end of the day. Maybe I could still actually take that photo before relaxing.

I went ahead and took the picture, but then stopped by my toolbox to take a look just in case I actually had it. That way, I could save a trip to the store.

I found something that might work.

To test it, I used it on one screw. It worked!

Maybe I’ll do another…

And, well… I bet you can guess that it became the afternoon project. What’s more, since the day was already clear, I had no worries of derailing other things.

Once again, I rather enjoyed it.

Our systems do well when they can accommodate us, to grow and shrink, to expand and collapse to meet the desires, whims, and flows of the moment, but somehow also nourish our stalled projects until they bloom.

It may seem like a lot to demand of a system. But it is possible. And maybe you can start yours by picturing a next action…

– Kourosh

PS In reality, there can be many more than one stalled project. Thinking of the many can be so overwhelming. So why not choose one? Maybe something without a deadline. Can you picture what that concrete next action is? Maybe write that down as a task. Or maybe give it that little nudge. I wonder where it might take you.