Smallest Lever

One of my readers asked me to explain how I use Next Action — which is a little different than described in David Allen’s book. So maybe I should call it something else like “Smallest Lever.”

I use Smallest Lever for tasks or projects that

a) I don’t particularly like to do–ones that feel onerous

b) I tell myself I’m “not good at”

c) I tell myself I don’t know how to do

d) I notice I’m avoiding

e) all of the above.

Rather than think about doing the whole thing, which brings on a bout of MDD (Motivational Deficit Disorder) I identify the smallest possible action that will move the task forward– a task that will take only a minute(or less) and is not at all onerous.

So I might:

  • look up a phone number
  • do a google search
  • recycle one piece of paper
  • write one sentence

    Once I take that small action, I’m usually started with the project and have enough momentum to make significant progress.

    Completing the entire task usually takes much less time than I put into finding other things to do so I could feel productive while avoiding this other task.

    Some days managing myself takes all my time. 😉