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The Embryo Step - A Trick I Use to Punch Procrastination in the Face


Do you have a PhD in procrastination? Today I want to show you a tool you can have in your toolkit to help you when you just don’t want to do the thing. 

I call it the embryo step.



Well, you’ve heard of baby steps, this is even smaller. It’s not even a fetus step. It’s an embryo step.

What on earth is this lady talking about?

Let me explain. 

There are many reasons we procrastinate. I’m not going to talk about all of them today. But one of the reasons is that we may very simply, have problems with what’s called “task initiation.” That’s exactly what is sounds like. It’s one of our executive functions. So some of us, sometimes, we don’t start, because we have trouble starting things.

It sounds simplistic, but if you’ve ever had one of those days where you just couldn’t get started on something and then when you finally did, you thought, “Well that wasn’t even hard. Why did I take so long to get around to it?” Then you may have an issue with task initiation. 

And this issue may be exacerbated depending on what’s going on with you that day. If you’re tired, stressed, not well nourished, feeling lonely, have forgotten to drink water, it might be even harder to initiate that task. 

So here’s a little hack that might work. Put it in your toolkit, so it’s available to you. 

We’re going to find the first absolutely tiniest step possible that’s needed to start the project. Let me give you an example. 

Let’s say I need to create a presentation for a conference where I’ll be speaking. What would the first step be?

If you said something like, “make an outline,” or “brainstorm,” those are good ideas, but they’re not embryo steps. They’re not even baby steps, they’re like, child steps. 

We want to break it down even more. So I would say something like:

Embryo step #1 is opening a blank document. 

If that doesn’t work, go ever smaller. 

Sitting at my desk. 


Turning on my computer. 

In a perfect world, we would be able to tell ourselves, “Hey, I’m going to write a presentation,” and our brains would just kind of take care of the micro or embryo steps for us, but sometimes it just doesn’t work like that. 

I have found that this often really helps me and my clients on days that they’re having trouble just snapping into the zone. We’re just making it as easy as possible for ourselves to get going. 

So if there’s something you’re putting off doing, take a second to think of what the very first embryo step would be. Give it a shot, and let me know what happens. :)