Make the Job Smaller
It’s natural to get overwhelmed by the size and scope of certain tasks. Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., a psychology professor at DePaul University, in Chicago, and the author of Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done ($16, amazon.com), says this is a case of “seeing the forest and forgetting that it’s made of trees.” His advice: “Cut down one tree. And if you can’t cut a whole tree, cut three branches.” Instead of being disheartened by how much you can’t do, look at how much you can. If you have 12 boxes of clutter to sort, do only one. On the other hand, if you simply have to get it all done, think about this: Sometimes shrinking a task is about quality rather than quantity. Says John Perry, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and a cohost of the radio show Philosophy Talk: “Ask yourself, ‘How good a job do I really need to do?’ Some things are not important enough to warrant perfection.” It makes more sense to do top-notch work when updating your résumé, for example, than when drawing up flyers for a block party.