How to Defeat Procrastination With the “One More Block” Approach

I felt fear as I considered walking home well after dark.

I had recently moved to Chicago, and was unfamiliar with my new neighborhood.

Conceptually, I knew it was safe enough to walk home. But still, I felt the resistance of fear. My hand hovered over the Lyft app on my iPhone as I debated hailing a ride.

I didn’t want to pay for a ride… But more importantly, I didn’t want this fear to control me.

The fearful thoughts kept popping up until a simple question shifted my thinking.

“If I lived at the end of this block, would I feel comfortable walking home?”  I thought to myself.

My answer to that was a clear “Yes!” Of course I’d be comfortable walking one block.

So I set off, and started walking.

At the end of that block, I asked myself: “How about one more block?” and continued onward.

That process continued, and soon enough, I had arrived on my doorstep, safe and sound.

Looking at the walk all at once felt intimidating. But block-by-block, it was no big deal!

From Intimidating to Approachable

Everything worth doing in life comes with some form of resistance.

Whether you’re building new relationships, creating a business, or just learning new skills, thoughts arise that threaten to hold you back.

“I might get rejected.”

“This might not work.”

“That’s going to take a lot of effort.”

“I just don’t feel like it!”

“What if I look like a fool?”

In these moments of apprehension, the “One More Block” approach shines.

Breaking down a big task into digestible parts is an effective way to beat procrastination and get moving.

How to get Started With the “One More Block” Approach

  1. Deconstruct your Challenge: Instead of seeing the entire thing at once, break down the activity/project into smaller “blocks”.
  2. Start with one: All you have to do is one section of that task. (e.g. Wash one dish. Walk one block. Do one push-up. Write one email…)
  3. Stay present to that activity: When you’re doing what you’re doing, just do that. It becomes an exercise in mindfulness. Simply stay present to it, and feel what it’s like to take action in the face of resistance.
  4. Consider taking another step: You might realize that you have it in you to take bite off another section of this activity.
  5. Take another step: Once you’re in motion, it’s easier to stay in motion.
  6. Keep moving: One step at a time.

You don’t have to commit to doing everything all at once. Just go one block.

This approach might seem insignificant at first. But just as a life is made up of moments, anything significant that’s ever been created was created one step at a time.

The Little Things are the Big Things

You can apply the “One More Block” approach in all areas of life.

  • Sink full of dishes? Probably the last thing you want to do. But washing one dish? That’s no problem.
  • Losing 25 pounds? Pretty intimidating to think about. But eating one healthy meal? Shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Making your sales quota for the month? That’s a big project. But making one phone call? No big deal!
  • Running a marathon? That’s intense! But going for a run right here, right now? Seems doable.
  • Writing a book? That’ll take months! But writing 1 page today? That’s approachable.

No matter where resistance shows up in your life, take it seriously.

Every time you defeat procrastination, you’re training your mind to deal with it in the future.

In this way, you can see that the little things are the big things. If you can’t take action to wash the dishes, how do you expect to create bigger positive changes in life?

Break the ice and Keep Moving

In the long-term, action is king. Small actions, consistently over time, yield big results.

It often takes a bit of extra “activation energy” to get moving on a given activity. Even for things we enjoy doing, moving from inaction to action takes some “oomph”.

Deconstructing the task at hand into smaller blocks helps you break the ice, and get going.

And once you do get started, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to keep moving.

After all, an object in motion stays in motion.