What is the First Step?

You have a big, new project with lots of moving parts or maybe you have a big product launch coming up, or maybe you just got promoted and have a ton of new responsibilities. It seems overwhelming – what do you do? I start by asking this question, “What is the first step?”

Multitasking is a myth – you can really only work and focus on one task at a time. So right now, all you need to know is the first step.

• If it is a new product launch, the first step might be “Who is our target audience?”
• If you have a new job, it might be “Where is my job description that lists my responsibilities?”

Now you might say, “But Garland – what about all the hundreds of steps that come after?” My wife once asked me “What the next first step was.” This boggled my mind. I was like “Wait, can’t we go to step 2, then 3, then 4?” What do you mean NEXT first step? But there is wisdom in what she says. We can only do one step at a time so each new step is a first step in a way.

Figuring out the first step gets you started, gets you working, gets you focused. Then it triggers a cascade of next first steps or step 2, 3, 4 and so on. Capture these next steps in your task management systems. I love drag and drop task lists for this part. You can brainstorm all the next steps and drag them in order so you always know the next first step.

Other first steps:

  • Writing a book
    • Outline it
    • Create a character persona page
    • Write one scene that you have been envisioning
  • Exercise program
    • Set a block of time aside in your calendar (link to Google Calendar time blocking)
    • Research local fitness centre offerings

Everything has a first step. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Learning to determine the first step is a great way to break the procrastination and to get things moving.

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