Label a Bucket

It’s old advice, but very true: if you want to get started with a big project, break it down into the smallest steps.

Here’s the challenge: sometimes we don’t know what those steps are. We don’t even have a concrete idea of where we want the plane to land, we just want a particular kind of outcome. We have a vague sense of a “good idea.” Maybe scattered pieces of thoughts that sort of relate, but no idea what to do with them. Sure, smallest possible step: but what is that?

Here’s a “universal small step” you can use every time: label a bucket.

If all of these thoughts, scraps, ideas, and concepts are floating around without direction, then the very first actionable step is to group them up. Create a workspace. Someplace they can go, and collect, and maybe gather together and form a little gravity. They need a bucket.

Grab a new notebook, and label it “My New Business.” Get a cardboard box and write “Geneology Project” on the side. Create a new Google doc labeled “updated onboarding” and share it – blank! – with one or two colleagues.

There. Now there is a shape, a place, something calling you. A border between That and things that are Not That. A smallest possible step.

You can put anything in that bucket. It doesn’t matter what – scraps, notes, clippings, questions, whatever. Simply putting things in the bucket at all is progress; “sorting” can come later. But the project has begun.

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