The Liberation of Breaking Down Barriers and Starting Anywhere
I’ve been practicing yoga at home a fair amount these days and not because I’ve unlocked some sort of amazing interface for transcendental yogic virtue. And not even because I’m particularly motivated to advance my yoga practice. Nope, this uptick in yogic activities is thanks to an embarrassingly facile reason: my yoga mat is always out.
Previously, I carefully rolled my mat up at the end of each practice and tucked it back in the closet, only to repeat the process the next time I felt the urge to downward dog. Somehow, this furling and unfurling of a strip of plastic-y foam was a substantial enough barrier to prevent me from doing yoga as often as I’d like.
The time it took to rummage around and fish my mat out of the coat closet–coupled with the requirement of an open bit of floor– meant that, despite my regular practice at my studio, I rarely did yoga at home. But now that my mat remains permanently out? I grab a few minutes here and there on an almost daily basis to refresh my mind and stretch my body. A perfect illustration of the crippling effect of barriers to entry.
It seems like a ludicrously simple proposition to open a yoga mat and yet, there are so many proverbial (and actual) mats that restrain us from doing the things we should do, or that we’d like to do. Humans are creatures of habit and of comfort. Barriers to entry–no matter how seemingly insignificant–constrain us in profound ways. There’s also something to be said of the physical reminder of my open mat. Every time I go into my office it’s there, serving as a silent, calm reminder that I need to take a few minutes to center myself.
When we perceive that an undertaking will be more difficult to accomplish than we feel prepared for, more often than not, we just don’t do it at all. We don’t even get started. Although “barriers to entry” are discussed most commonly in an economic context, we all unwittingly construct these barriers in our own minds and lives. Perhaps it’s feeling too discouraged to start dieting, or too unmotivated to start exercising, or too scared to start managing our finances. Whatever the specific circumstance is, we can almost all be assured that we have–or have had–barriers of our own making thwarting our potential achievement and happiness.
When we moved to our homestead last month, Mr. Frugalwoods and I felt particularly intimidated by the overgrown vegetable garden on our property. It looked like we were hosting the world’s largest (and most boring) weed competition for how strapping and tall the vines, bushes, and small trees (yes, trees) of weeds were. I mean, from a weed analysis perspective, it was a somewhat fascinating case study…
This garden was so tremendously overgrown, in fact, that we didn’t even realize there were raised beds hiding under all that flora detritus. We didn’t have a plan and we didn’t know how to start reclaiming this patch for our own personal vegetable-related purposes. In short, it seemed an impossible feat.
Plus, in addition to this neglected veg patch, we were staring down countless flower beds in need of weeding and myriad other projects that keep popping up on the land. Feeling thusly helpless and overwhelmed, we ignored said veg garden for weeks.
But then I realized that we don’t need to do everything—as I wrote about the other week. And in fact, we don’t even have to do most of it. All we have to do is something. Anything. Suddenly, our next steps were as plain as the snout on Frugal Hound’s face (and that’s a pretty long snout). All we needed to do was our highest priority.
So I ran through our options: spend hours weeding and mulching flower beds? Eh. I’m not out to supply with world with flowers, nor do I have a desire to create the most beautiful ornamental gardens on the block (road? we don’t really have blocks out here per se… ). I back-tracked in my own little brain and reminded myself that my goal–and dream–has always been to grow our own vegetables. So why wasn’t I simply doing that?
Thanks to this mini-revelation, Mr. FW and I commenced battle with the plot of weeds masquerading as vegetable garden. I have no idea when the last time was that anyone tried to beat back these swarthy, invasive thorns, but it wasn’t anytime recent.
Turns out, though, just a few hours of work is all it took to (mostly) transform this erstwhile jungle. We’d built it up as a colossal task in our minds and nearly succumbed to inaction because of our perceived inability to make a change.
In light of our crazy late frost dates (and a few abnormally cold days), we got our starts and seeds into the ground not too far behind schedule. While it’s unlikely we’ll feed the town from our garden this summer, hopefully we’ll harvest at least a few veggies. If our existing (and prolific) rhubarb and asparagus patches are any indication, we have some good soil going on. But even if nary a crop bears fruit, I don’t consider it a loss. I consider it a telling reminder of just how much we’re capable of if only we liberate ourselves from our self-imposed mental shackles.
Small, Incremental Progress
In the case of our vegetable patch, I had to eradicate the mental barrier I’d created of assessing the situation as beyond my capabilities. I was positively daunted by the sheer number of garden beds we’re fortunate enough to have that I ran the risk of not accomplishing a single thing in our yard. Paralysis by overwhelm. It’s a real thing.
This is why we so often neglect making real change in our lives–because it feels far too difficult to start chipping away at a gargantuan goal. And so, we ignore it. We ignore our debt or our overspending or our dysfunctional relationships because, why bother trying to change something so massive and intractable?
But the key is breaking each challenge down, isolating the variables, and getting started somewhere. Small, incremental progress is where it’s at. For me, it’s doing a few minutes of yoga and taking charge of just one of our gardens. Small, incremental progress.
Managing our finances is where so many of us encounter overwhelm because money has a way of seeming not quite real. It doesn’t stare us in the face like a garden full of weeds. And so it’s easy–oh so very easy–to say we’ll start tracking our spending next month. To promise that next month we’ll reduce our grocery bill, that next month we’ll begin to tackle our debt in earnest, next month we’ll commence our extreme frugality regimen.
But it’s far too easy to let time elapse (and proverbial weeds grow) on our most fervent aspirations. What I put to you is that any reduction in friction makes a big difference in how often you’ll do something. Whether it’s leaving your yoga mat open or signing up for Personal Capital in order to track your expenses. Don’t laugh–there’s a great deal of merit in having all of your expenses consolidated in one spot for your review!
In fact, I daresay it’s why so many of us financial writers tout tracking finances as our #1 money management tip. I come back to this advice often because a recurring theme in my inbox are questions on how to get started on a frugal path. My answer is always the same: comb through your expenses one by one. I often recommend Personal Capital for this task because it has the advantage of being both free and easy to use.
Removing Our Barriers
Removing barriers to entry–be they physical (a la the yoga mat of moi) or mental (my garden situation)–is how we begin to move forward. The best antidote to stress and overwhelm is action. Recognizing these barriers and acknowledging their sway over our thinking, and our world view, brings us closer to fulfilling our destiny.
Sometimes the best place to start is, quite simply, anywhere. It’s not always possible to begin things at the exact, right, ideal moment–in fact, waiting for that moment is a surefire recipe for never accomplishing anything. Are Mr. FW and I doing the most crucial, necessary chores on our land? Maybe. Maybe not. But perfection is an elusive and false master. Action, on the other hand, is a constant, cheerful companion.
When we repeatedly deny our ability to do something, pretty soon we make those denials our reality. And when we continually complain and create excuses for our life? Yep, you guessed it–those excuses and complaints become what our life comprises. Living fully, fearlessly, and with abundant hope, on the other hand, transforms our perception of who we are and what we’re able to achieve.
What barriers do you want to remove in your life?
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Very good lessons and tips. I tend to hesitate before I start big projects too, but once I get into it and starting to chip away I realize that I can accomplish it. And the feeling afterward, having completed a big project and now reaping the benefits, feels so great! Thanks for starting my day off with a bit extra motivation!
I think your habits can be a barrier. Things you’ve always done a certain way. They can get in the way of new hobbies or projects or tasks you want to accomplish. I’m trying to be open to changing things that while they may have worked for 5 years or so now, are not the best option.
I have a similar thing with exercise. We set up a home gym with a tv in it for exercise videos, a bike on a stationary stand (because I’m not going to keep putting my normal bike on the stand over and over) and even a pair of headphones hooked up so I can watch movies as I bike. I set it up that way for the same reason: If it wasn’t ready to go, I’m not going to want to spend the 5-10 minutes setting things up.
Agree on the incremental progress thing as well. On my to-do list, I used to list big items as if they were one thing, like “clean up back yard.” Then I realized it wasn’t getting done, so I would break things down to component parts that I can check off: Pull weeds, sweep up patio, trim bushes, etc. It makes for a longer list, but checking things off gets your feeling of accomplishment going so you want to keep going down the list.
Liz, I love how your 2 examples are perfect complements. The doing nothing apparently productive of yoga and the vigorous activity of reclaiming your garden are a portrait in yin & yang. I feel it is *not* a coincidence that these 2 things are happening at the same time in your life. Getting out your yoga mat & leaving out might seem like a step on the slippery slope toward clutter by not putting it away after each use, yet it clears a space in your life & your mind that allows you to do the real sorting & clearing & culling around the yard. I love dichotomy! Only intuition can guide us through that labyrinth – intellect doesn’t stand a chance, except as an organizational tool, as you described in your systems for dealing with overwhelm & finances. Thanks so much for these fun revelations!
To me, having a yoga mat (that’s used regularly) in a dedicated spot wouldn’t be any more cluttersome than having a couch or table or chair that stays out.
What a great post! This is something every single one of your readers can relate to. We all have our own overgrown veggie gardens (of sorts) and the crazy thing is that once you brave up and tackle one another pops up to take it’s place. I guess that’s what “making progress” is…a routine hacking back of the weeds and planting of seeds!
In the last three years I’ve been chipping away at building my own online/eCommerce business. As you know, being your own boss is filled with a sea of weed-invaded veggie gardens. Everywhere you look, there’s a patch of marketing that needs to be attended to, or that stack of receipts that needs to be updated into QuickBooks, then there’s ordering product and facing the job of packing and shipping inventory to Amazon…and on and on…
But in keeping with your mantra to just do something, the important tasks manage to get done. And sometimes, the things that don’t get done turn out to be unnecessary after all! Whew!
Great post and just what I needed today as I woke feeling overwhelmed with tasks that build up over time. You got me moving. Thanks.
Paralysis by overwhelm….indeed. You hit the nail on the head with that one, Girl! That’s always my biggest barrier.
Your garden looks absolutely wonderful. Will it look better next year? Certainly. As an avid gardener I can tell you it’s always a work in progress. But, all worth it when you eat those veggies harvested steps from your back door. Enjoy!! (Don’t forget to document your plantings and harvest amount and methods each year. It helps to make improvements and changes. You think you’ll remember, but trust me, you won’t. )
I have an old barn needing sanding, repair and paint. It felt overwhelming only because I had combined all 3 to do in a single day.
Saturday afternoon, sand
Sunday – paint if weather cooperates.
Thanks for the reality check 🙂
My therapist recently set about asking me the same questions and just continued to drill down until I realized that my excuses were just that – excuses. Things that seem like stopping points usually have solutions if we can pull them apart enough to see what is stopping us truly – and for me that is usually just me stopping myself.
I think that I needed this message so much. I have been mulling around ideas to earn extra money, but I have not taken any action. I have allowed excuse after excuse get in the way of actually taking any action. I am already working a job, my husband should help out, I have two children, etc. etc. etc. There will always be excuses that will get in the way of Action. I am so happy that you guys were able to take action on your goals!
I think this a great followup to your most recent post of not being able to do it all at once. We should work smart, but the important thing is doing something instead of just talking about doing something.
This is a fabulous post. I often find myself feeling too overwhelmed to tackle the clutter in my home (I tend to let things build up when life gets busy), and I end up wasting the time I could spend cleaning. I then feel irritated about the amount of clutter and other tasks like cooking take longer, due to the amount of clutter. Just yesterday, I said to myself, “I’ll just do the dishes leftover from the chaotic weekend.” I spent a total of an hour and a half cleaning, and I did all the dishes, cleaned off the countertops, ran a load of laundry, paid a bill unearthed in the mess, cooked and ate dinner, and packed necessary items for work the next day. Just overcoming the small barrier of doing the dishes motivated me to keep going. And I enjoyed the time spent relaxing afterwards much more!
What a great post, thank you, so much sense packed into the article. For me, a house that I think is new (because it nearly was when we moved in 16 years ago!) is in fact now showing signs of age. The to do list keeps growing and could easily be overwhelming. But I agree with what you say about starting small and staying focused. I wonder also if simplifying is also key, sometimes modern life and multi tasking can get in the way of making progress on the things that matter. Please keep your posts coming they are great always look forward to reading them!
Thanks for the great post. I too felt overwhelmed with my garden and yard this year declaring I’m not doing it anymore! Well, after watching my dog frolicking and chase the animals it dawned on me that her continuous chases with no results does not deter her. While she’s out there I cleaned out an overgrown jungle. Looked good, then put in a new raised garden bed. Looked around and repeated. Now I have 3 cleaned garden beds and weeded 4 flower beds. Your post reminded me I put this aside for 2 years cuz of health, getting old (I didn’t want to). This monumental task, inch by inch has brightened my outlook. Rewards of veggies, herbs and berries are reeling in. Thanks again for your inspiration. Oh yeah my back still hurts as it did before but I love my accomplishment.
Looks great! So what did you inherit already growing in your boxes?
My town started a community garden this year so I’m giving gardening in the ground a go. We’ll see what grows! Do you have any Gilfeather turnips? They are officially the Vermont state vegetable as of this year and we have a festival dedicated to them each year in Wardsboro.
Thank you for this article, it came on exactly the day I needed it. I had been procrastinating on preparing a presentation for which I will earn extra money (which you would think would have been a motivating factor) and I just could not find a way to get it started. I finished reading your article, opened a word document and started the outline. I’ve enjoyed how your blog motivates me to not just think about frugality (which it does) but to think about intentional living in all areas of my world! The Garden looks beautiful, by the way!!
This is a fantastic post! One of my barriers over the winter was just exercise. I always do it, but maybe not as often as I wanted. (I generally was managing 4x a week, but wanted 6-7).
Mental barriers broken:
1. I made a 2 month schedule of workouts. I knew each day what would happen the next
2. Physical barriers. I put my DVDs in a convenient location and laid out my clothing each night
And near the end, even better:
Physical barriers: I signed up for the on-line system for my DVD workouts, so I didn’t even need the DVD, just stream from the Roku.
This has the added benefit of – if I’m “not feeling” the workout of that day (like today, not enough sleep and I ended up staring down a hard core 48 min workout) – I have dozens of other workouts to choose from.
So true! The first step towards any goal always seams to be the hardest. Since I feel pretty on top of my financial goals right now, my next goal is to work on myself. Move more. Be healthier. I find myself spending a lot of time in front of my computer writing and editing. My new goal will just be to walk. Maybe around the block. NBD 🙂
Your veggie garden looks awesome. Great job. I can’t wait to see what comes up.
The first small step is always the biggest, isn’t it? Just *getting started* on a project makes a big difference. Doing anything, no matter how small can overcome those hurdles.
You’re calling out the problem most of us have difficulties starting: activation energy. Simple things like leaving your guitar out if you want to play more, or leaving your tennis shoes out if you want to work out more, tricks your brain into thinking, hmm, maybe it’s actually harder to avoid doing this thing than to do it.
My big trick is just to put the shoes on my feet: once that happens, it’s easy to trick my brain into working out.
I have been saying “after I retire” I will….you name it. Chores , writing, walking the dogs.
So, now I’m retired and for some reason still find both physical and mental blocks, but I am working on it!
I am doing more writing and taking my hound dogs for “petite promenades” in the mornings.
Thanks for the post.
I love how you write. You are very well spoken. I get a kick out of you satire! You point was well taken! This is a great wake up, shake up! Thanks! Live your blog!!! Love your life!!
Your yoga spot is so beautiful! Reading and contemplative movement are two favorite activities of mine, so a yoga mat near bookshelves is hitting all the right buttons for me! How lucky you are to have found a home with a spot like this!
We’ve been in our own home for three years and still have to “just start wherever” based on our energy and financial resources when opportunities for improvement arise. We still have so much to do to “make it ours”!
A wonderful blog post. Makes so much sense to me, and will be a great help to me today. I am in the middle of organising a big event and trying to decide what job to do next is a hard one sometimes. Today I have written down just three things, I will concentrate on them – manageable and not overwhelming.
I so enjoy finding your emails in my email box…they are always so refreshing to read. I would so love to sit with you one day over a cup of tea. Thank you for sharing.
What a gentle kick-in-the-pants to get your readers in gear! I think we have all done this; it is so damnably overwhelming that I just won’t deal with it. Yet, like a pending storm, it’s cloudy, lots of thunder, and it preoccupies your thoughts. I have done this with my finances for years, in lean and fat times. There is just no substitute for just digging in!
I finally cleaned up my spare bedroom and keep my yoga mat out now too. I have had yoga instructors tell me that working in yoga in small drabs is very beneficial. Sometimes, just 3 minutes of stretching and breathing helps.
I needed to read this message today. Thank you! And I love your garden.
We love this article! Sometimes you are going to make mistakes and that’s okay, but it is totally necessary to try and break down those mental barriers! Thanks for sharing!
Awesome article, Mrs Frugalwoods. I myself am struggling with the exercise thing right now, but you’re right, small incremental progress is enough. Thanks for the inspiration!
I found tackling the yard in sections is also best. It is easier to focus on a couple small areas that are manageable. You can increase ground coverage year after year. 7 years later at my house weeds are still a problem, but a less overwhelming one!
Awesome post, we make a ton of great points and I couldn’t agree more. These two quotes stood out most to me:
“When we perceive that an undertaking will be more difficult to accomplish than we feel prepared for, more often than not, we just don’t do it at all.”
We’d built it up as a colossal task in our minds and nearly succumbed to inaction because of our perceived inability to make a change.”
So many people are either too scared or too lazy to start something. It can be finances, exercise, eating right, resolving conflict, or many more examples. It’s so key to just take that first step because it becomes much more real and feels possible. Paying off debt feels like that. It’s so daunting to see the total number, but if I don’t acknowledge it, no progress will be made. Thanks for the great reminder!
Ah, I can so much relate to this post! “Sometimes the best place to start is, quite simply, anywhere.” The most important thing to do is your highest priority. I’ve been approaching the avalanche of email at my new job this way and it’s working fine., and staving off the beast of overwhelm.
Your new home is inspiring great wisdom. Thank you for continuing to share your insights with us.
Having a small child has actually helped motivate me to get things done, because I only have a few chances at uninterrupted time- aka nap time. If I tell myself, OK, just get done whatever you can before he wakes up, then I often am surprised at what I can accomplish in a short period of time. Having low expectations helps 🙂 Great post!
Haha, yes! I’m amazed at what I can accomplish during nap time :)!
Beautiful post, and such a relevant topic! So many people tell me they’d like to make changes but don’t know where to start. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and do nothing. I can relate to the house / yard experience in your case, but we keep chipping away at it slowly!
Great article and a great lesson. We have been following your blog and others like it for quite some time. We knew we wanted to jump into this world as well but honestly felt overwhelmed on where to start. We just signed up last month for Personal Capital and I agree it is great. We are finally seeing all of our expenses and beginning to chip away at them. Keep the great articles coming. Your story is very inspiring.
Congrats and good luck on your garden.
I agree that too many options causes paralysis. I like to make my to-do list, then go back and number my top three priorities. If I get those done in the day, I’m happy and everything else is gravy.
We have to pack for a big move coming up and there’s all these books and household things that need to be put away in boxes. I finally just started doing it after procrastinating for a week and it’s amazing what I got put away in a focused hour of work.
This reminds me of laundry. I had one house that had an excellent laundry room with a place big enough for me to leave my ironing board set up. I’d fold clothes right there, put them away, and then iron. Partly because we have small kids now and partly because we left behind that awesome laundry room, I don’t have the same approach to ironing. I don’t have any approach (whoamIkidding).
Well I have to say, the veggie patch looks unrecognizable! And in a good way. 🙂 I’ve had a similar experience with getting in shape, which was one of my goals this year. I made excuses and “couldn’t find the time” to go to the gym–so I would eat chips and watch Netflix instead. I actually bought an elliptical for our home and put it in the living room. This got rid of the mental and physical barriers I had created between myself and my goals. I’m happy to report that I’m more in shape than I’ve been in years. 🙂
I think it’s easy to overestimate a task and underestimate our own power and ability. But once you get over the excuses and the fears, it’s not a big deal.
I remain in awe of your wisdom! I’ve got to write those checks to our retirement funds tonight!
A very timely article for me. I’m struggling with this right now, and to be honest, have always struggled with it.
Amen, amen, amen, Mrs. FWs.
It’s so easy to wait for the right time or the perfect scenario where all the stars align for one to start living the life of one’s aspirations. I’m guilty as charged of this foolish mentality but ever since this realization arose in my mind, I work hard to combat it.
It also doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” in our pursuits. No longer do I push myself to do a full hour of yoga once a week when I know ten minutes a day for 3-4 times a week makes me a far happier yogi. Sure, 30-40 minutes of yoga a week is less than 60 minutes a week but it’s still better then 0 minutes a week for those weeks when I_just_don’t_feel_like_it (and man, do those weeks happen frequently). I love how you shared the idea of reducing friction or what some call, setting your environment up for success. It sure is a whole lot easier to just step on the yoga mat whenever the mood strikes than to have to fish it out of its storage, etc.
Thank you for this wonderfully inspiring post. I feel reinvigorated by your words and am now off to live the life of my dreams! *hugs from NYC!*
I would love to live without fear, I have been afraid to change jobs for a very long time – 6 years, and its because of fear. I need to trust things will work out, but I can’t get there until I take action. The garden looks amazing.
Congrats on getting vegetables in! We are struggling with something similar. It seems like Everything Outside at our house needs to be changed as one grand project costing tens of thousands of nonexistent dollars, so where does one start? (Not knowing the answer, I settled for pulling the weeds in the rock beds facing the street to at least keep up the appearance of the neighborhood!)
For me, it helps to pick A Thing and do that thing, or maybe a couple of things, and let the Next Thing wait. This week, I am trying to finish my KonMarie purge and maybe getting started on a skirt I bought the fabric to make. I have the vague idea I should Do Something about my hair. It will wait.
Planning also helps me get over those mental barriers. When I find myself thinking I HAVE NO TIME TO DO ANY OF THE THINGS I will just pick a time a few days in the future when I should have a few consecutive hours relatively uncommitted, and plan to do a thing then. (
Those are impressive before and afters. I had a similar moment in my LLC. My office is not in an easy location for my clients to find, which is frustrating the first time they’ve scheduled an appointment. I started looking to see what other commercial spaces nearby were going for. They were all at least double what I’m paying. Then my girlfriend reminded me that my office is mainly about a safe space to store files and is not focused on interacting with others. I had created a problem by forgetting my real goal, and almost got overwhelmed by it.
Congratulations on all the changes for you this past year!
I get paralysis when confronted with big projects because I don’t know where to begin. My boyfriend will tell me, “Do something, even if it’s wrong!” That helps me realize things don’t have to be perfect. And once I start it usually is easier than I made it out to be in my mind.
Making excuses is really a bad habit that we should avoid as once it has become part of our lifestyle, it’s hard to take that away/off.
This was a really inspiring post. It got me in a state of mind of looking out for what might be holding me back from being as happy as I can be. Recently I’ve had a realization that I spend too much time mulling over/worrying about what other people think. I don’t mean in the sense that I am afraid to do things that are unconventional; more in the sense that I have many little moments throughout the day where I worry about how I might have been perceived in a certain moment. It’s just not worth it! Once you identify something as a barrier, it is easier to reject it, so thanks for that insight.
Also, what a great point about how sometimes the magnitude of a task overwhelms us and we don’t start it at all. This happens to me all the time, especially with respect to tiding up the house. I like the advice of just committing yourself to do a small component of the task. By the time you’ve done that first component, you often realize that it’s not that bad after all and keep going. And even if you stop there, well, at least you’ve gotten started and there’ll be less to do next time.
So true. I have been putting off an exercise program as well as financial shape-up. A good kick in the behind (my own kick) to get moving:)
I am a fan of yoga! I do it every other day, and it makes me feel more active and gives me more energy. I am glad that there are videos online that I can do and copy. It’s really a great activity to do with my husband.
I get rid of emotional barriers by just being and feeling good about myself and people around me. I as much as possible resolve conflicts, if there’s any. It’s really good to have no barriers affecting how I relate to others and view myself as a person.
Wow the garden looks so fantastic! I think I would have such a hard time with breaking down my mental barrier because I would be so overwhelmed from looking at your first picture but the lesson is to overcome those barriers right? Even little by little helps! I want to get rid of some of my mental barriers as I sometimes don’t take action because an activity that I’m about to do is unfamiliar.
You may want to check out the no till/dig method of gardening. I was in the same weed situation as you and almost gave up. Now I just put all my lawn clippings and leaves in the garden to rot down. It works great at keeping the weeds at bay and improving the soil ( I also add wood ash from the stove and scavenged seaweed from the beach). I almost never have to water either.
The biggest thing that helped me was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (a great book on writing BTW). In the opening story she tells the story of her sister struggling with a report on all these birds and their dad tells her “just take it bird by bird.” Large tasks can often be broken down to smaller ones, and often just saying to oneself “well, I just have to do the first step” will often lead to more steps being accomplished! I used to do this with exercise, by telling myself I’ll just do a little bit. Once started momentum usually kicks in!