Focus on the “Next Action” to Stop Procrastinating

  When you have a big picture project, you need to focus on the next action - you need to have a long term vision but a short-term work plan.


I’m Erika Salloux, and I’m going to tell you one of the best secrets to getting more done when you’ve been procrastinating on something and actually starting.

Focus on Your Next Actions

I pilfered a little bit of this from David Allen’s work, because he talks about next actions. A lot of times when you look at a big project that is really overwhelming, we look at the whole big picture and maybe the end goal instead of thinking about just a little bitty next task that we have to do. So a lot of times when I work with clients I say okay so what’s the next task in this project? Potentially like they want to hire an assistant for instance.
But that’s not really the next task, that’s the overarching project. The next task might be to make a list of all the things they want the assistant to do, so things they want to take off their plate. And that’s a smaller task, it’s a very bite-sized task, and they can sit down and say I’m going to do that. It’s called a next action sheet that I use with my clients. At the top you write down the name of the project, so it could be hiring an assistant, then the end result that’s going to take it off your plate.

Organize Your Next Task

So I have a stellar assistant what I love working with who is really good at all the tasks that I want to have that person do, whatever that is. And then you start to write down the small itty bitty task, and you can do this on your computer too if you like to have everything electronic, as I do nowadays – less paper the better. And you can also rearrange them, so if something changes you can cut-and-paste and literally just decide when you’re going to do the next task. Put that into your schedule, put an alarm on that, that you’re going to actually be doing that next task instead of looking at the whole big picture.
That way, it’s a really small bite-sized chunk, and your brain is going to process it better. Also the other thing is when you write down the task, don’t write down little phrases, start with an action verb and with a period. Because our brains will read that and go oh that’s what I have to do. So instead of just writing down some person’s name that you want to call, say call Jim to discuss potential people he might know for this position. That way, later when you look at it you won’t be guessing what the heck it means, you’ll remember. Just start with a next action sheet, you can create it on your computer, that’s our brains work.

About Erika Salloux

Erika is a Certified Professional Organizer® (CPO®) who is the founder and president of Living Harmony, LLC. Since 2003 she has gotten people organized so they can live their desires and purpose.

Employing her holistic and coach-centered approach to organizing, Erika conducts transformative speaking programs. Her signature EmpoweredTime™ process leads those looking for a more calm, grounded, and focused reality to increased health, serenity, and productivity. Participants learn how to banish paper clutter for good using her PaperPower™ system. And her JetPac© method transforms packing and traveling from stress to simplicity for all kinds of vacationers, trekkers, and business travelers.

Erika regularly contributes to Boston-area and national media outlets. Her appearances include NPR, NECN, CBS, FOX, WUMB, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and The Boston Globe. She has acted as an organizing consultant for Real Simple.

Erika’s clients have included those at Harvard University, Wellesley College, Boston University, Suffolk University, Tufts University, Cambridge Health Alliance, Loomis, Sayles & Company, L.P., Cambridge Savings Bank, Museum of Fine Arts, Prudential, Putnam Investments, Raytheon, Houghton Mifflin, Pottery Barn Kids, IBM, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, New England Cable News, National Labor Relations Board, and the Transportation Security Administration.

Erika is an active member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and a member of its Golden Circle. Her NAPO positions have included Leader of the Speaking for Fees special interest group and the Golden Circle Liaison to NAPO-New England’s Programming Committee. Her past NAPO-NE positions have included the Co-Chair of the Programming Committee and Co-Chair of the Public Relations Committee.

Since 2009, she has been an active and loyal member of Holistic Organizers, a group of international organizers who integrate spiritual and holistic principles and practices into their work and advocate for a compassionate, heart-centered approach to organizing.

Prior to launching Living Harmony, Erika held positions at WBUR and the Public Radio International show “From the Top,” respectively. Her rich and varied public broadcasting life has also included working on such programs as “Sessions at West 54th” and “Humankind.” Before that she was a music industry publicist and artist manager working with performers as diverse as John Mellencamp and EMF.

Erika holds a BS in Mass Communications from Boston University’s College of Communication.

Erika’s other passions include her inquisitive and interspiritual spiritual life, nurturing consciousness, creating and sharing meals with her friends and family, dancing all over the place, yoga, meditation, all sorts of music, spontaneous travel to varied destinations, tennis, theatre, film, and swimming in almost any body of water, but especially an ocean or sea. Embracing life through an open heart is always her desire.