Sometimes I get stuck. I go to work, look at my to-do list, and sit immobilized because I am overwhelmed. The same is true when I think about my development. The things I want to get better at look like big changes from where I sit now. Where do I even start?
But there’s good news: In the last year, I have adopted a new practice that’s helping me get unstuck. I added a category called “jumpstarts” to my daily task list. Jumpstarts are five-minute tasks that get me moving on the big ugly projects and development activities that I am likely to avoid. Here are some recent examples:
To help me delegate instead of micro-manage…
- I will only ask questions in the team meeting later today.
- I won’t say anything and just listen to other people’s ideas unless they ask me a question.
To strengthen my network…
- I will email one of the key stakeholders and set up a lunch next week.
- I will have lunch with one of my direct reports this week and ask what I am doing well and what I can improve.
Why do jumpstarts work? Psychologically, these small wins build the self-efficacy and confidence to continue engaging in the targeted behavior. They also trigger a learning orientation—with these more manageable tasks, it’s easier to see what works, what doesn’t, and why. And they prime creativity and trigger energy to try the next step.
What are the jumpstarts you can add to your to-do list today?