Inertia is no match for pen and paper

One of the biggest obstacles many people face in accomplishing their goals is simply getting started. When you’re first starting out, just how much there is to do can be overwhelming, and it leads many of us to perfect the art of procrastination rather than making progress towards the goal we so deeply desire to reach. I know I’m often there, turning another page in my magazine rather than getting up off the couch and getting things in motion for, say, my weekly bread bake.

A favorite method of mine for overcoming the initial inertia is to build a progress tracking tool. For many of my goals and projects, I have some kind of notebook or chart that I use to record my progress. These tools can be great motivators throughout the experience, since it’s so easy to look at the page and see just how much I’ve already accomplished. But when I’m first starting out, making the tool itself can be what helps me overcome my urge to procrastinate. My notebooks and charts aren’t anything huge — usually just a simple chart with some annotations down the side, or picking a notebook to use and adding some initial notes on what I hope to accomplish with the project or goal.

Making the progress tracking tool is itself a step towards achieving my aims. It’s an incremental amount of progress, and if you haven’t used such a tool before it can be a little hard to believe that something can help you so much. But progress is addictive, and since these tools make it easy to see the progress you’ve made at a glance, they’ve been key to my success in a lot of recent projects. Just this weekend, I was considering skipping a week on my quick bread baking project. But thinking about how doing a bread bake today would give me another entry in my cookbook-cum-baking record notebook helped motivate me to add the ingredients I would need to my grocery list and get to the grocery store. When it’s so easy to hang out on the couch with your favorite pastime, every little bit helps when you’re trying to achieve bigger things. Progress tracking tools can make an important difference. And making the tools themselves can be a lot of fun. It’s an opportunity to do something with your hands and be creative, even if just in a small way. And since making the tool is itself a little accomplishment, it helps give you the confidence and the momentum to keep going.


My current goal for the quick breads project is to fill this page with breadmaking entries

Reminders of how much progress you’ve made are invaluable. Just yesterday, I was cleaning my kitchen. Putting away baking implements, it struck me how much I now have in my baking cabinet. I took a step back and just let it sink in for a bit. I really am someone who bakes again!

There are a lot of great things going on in my life. I have a lot of stepping back and marveling to do.


Just step back and take it all in!

Featured Recipe:

Add a Comment