A couple of Saturday mornings ago, I was laying in bed dreading a task on my to-do list. Ironically, at this point, I can’t even recall what this dreaded task was. How horrible could it have been? Regardless, at that moment lying in bed, trying to convince myself to get up and do that task…the task felt huge, horrible and something to be avoided at all costs.

If you’ve ever procrastinated on a project, then you’ll be interested to know what got me to pop out of bed that Saturday morning and get started on my task. These four little words can become the tool that gets you out of bed, or off the internet or away from your favorite procrastinating activity and on to the task you’re avoiding.

Those four little words are: divide and do it!

How to apply the divide-and-do-it approach to projects on your list:

Organizing Projects

Do you have an organizing project on your to-do list that feels so big and overwhelming that you aren’t sure how to even begin? Divide and do it! Organizing projects are terrific candidates for the divide-and-do-it approach to getting things done. Often, the reason you’re feeling overwhelmed is because you’re focusing on the entire project…and from where you’re standing at the beginning of the project, it’s hard to even imagine the finish line. But if you divide the project into smaller sections, it’s so much easier to do it!

Let’s say your child’s bedroom has been overrun by clutter. Start by dividing the room into small sections. You could focus on the pile on the floor one day, the bookcase the next day, the dresser the third day and the toy box the fourth. After you divide the room into small, manageable sections, you can simply get started doing it! Pick one section to start with and begin sorting. Remove items your child no longer uses and put them into a donate box or storage container to save for a younger sibling. Group similar items together into small piles or sorting containers, and simply work your way around the room, sorting, letting go and organizing the contents. When you divide and do it, every organizing project becomes much more manageable.

Healthy Eating Goals

In my life I’ve tried many different healthy eating plans (or dare I say diets). But rarely was I able to stick with any of them. That is, until I tried the divide-and-do-it approach. A year or so ago, my family decided to add one vegetarian meal to our weekly menu. In time, we enjoyed it so much that we added another, and then another, and then another. In a short period of time we went from eating meat nearly every day to moving away from chicken, beef and pork completely! And we did it by focusing on just one day at a time, or dividing up the idea of becoming vegetarian into bite-sized pieces. (Pun intended.)

If you’re looking to make changes to your diet, try the divide-and-do-it approach. Make a list of all the changes you’d like to make to your eating habits, and then pick just one change and set out to do it!

Exercising More

I’ve also used the divide-and-do-it approach to add more exercise into my weekly routine. Back in January, I set a goal to exercise four times per week. At that time, my only habitual form of exercise was a once weekly yoga session. Instead of trying to figure out where the three new sessions were going to fit in my schedule at once, I used the divide-and-do-it approach. I divided the goal into three distinct pieces—adding one, then two, then three new exercise sessions to my weekly schedule. I didn’t do it all at once, but started with one weekly boot camp class on Saturday mornings. That felt so terrific that I wanted to add a third session: a weekly run on an indoor track while my daughter was at gymnastics in the same facility. In time, I was exercising four times per week and actually enjoying it!

Take Action!

The reason divide and do it works (aside from the fact that it’s a catchy little mantra that will get stuck in your head and turn you into your own personal coach) is because it takes something that seems big and insurmountable and turns it into something small and doable. Using this technique is really quite simple. Start by dividing your to-do list or goal list and focus on just one project or goal. Next, create a list of all possible things you could do to move that project or goal forward. Your list doesn’t have to be complete. If you come up with one small step forward, start there. Regardless of the length of your list, once you have a list of possible ways to move forward on your project, pick one and simply—do it!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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