Tiny steps — big results?

Elena Tucker
3 min readFeb 17, 2021
Photo by Mirko Blicke on Unsplash

If you love doing something, you are going to make time for it. It’s really not complicated, it’s not rocket surgery, it’s not even remotely original. So why do I find it so damn difficult?

For one, my ego resists both change and hard work. Change is difficult under the best of circumstances. My nature isn’t exactly a hard-working but rather work-averse. This last part is a mystery to me, since I come from very hard-working folk.

And I want to work hard. I want to become a write-a-holic so badly, I can taste it … and it tastes like caviar, … which I love. However, there’s like a bombed-out bridge over a deep chasm between me and this desire. How do I fix that?

There are two ways to break things — quickly or slowly. Therefore, it stands to reason that there are at least two ways to fix things, too. The first way is to be thrown into the deep end, work or drown. The second is the Kaizen way, in teeny tiny, incremental steps of improvement, but always moving in the right direction.

I do not believe that the drop me in the deep end method will work for me. That is based on my life experience, so far. Left to my own devices, I would absolutely drown, and in record time. That leaves the Japanese efficiency improvement method of Kaizen.

What is the smallest step I can take today to get to my end goal of living to write? Everything I could think of was too huge, too overwhelming. But the idea is to take one big task and break it up into 10 or 20 or even 30 small, miniscule tasks. All right. My task is to write an outline. Where to begin? I am allowed to do one per day.

1. Begin by taking out the book about how to do writing outlines and leaving it in the open, so I can see it when I sit down in my chair.

2. Prepare pretty-color highlighters. I have pale pink and bright yellow — both will be used.

3. Prepare sticky tabs for information I want to retain.

4. Read the introduction. If there is anything I want to highlight, do it.

5. Begin reading the first chapter. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and stop after the timer goes off. Unless I finish the chapter in the time allotted. Do not take notes, only highlight and tab information.

6. Continue reading either the first chapter, or the next chapter. Set the timer for 10 minutes prior to that, and stop after it goes off.

7. Continue reading, 10 minutes at a time, only highlighting and tabbing.

8. Once the book is finished, take a designated for this purpose notebook, and begin taking notes on important information. Do not forget to set the timer for 10 minutes and only work for that time.

9. Once this is done, take a different notebook, and begin to prep for writing your own outline — in 10-minute increments.

I am starting this tonight. I am taking the book on how to do an outline off the bookshelf and leaving it in a place I’ll be able to see it every day. Good luck to me.

Elena Tucker

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.