In preparation for a month-long workshop, I had a pile of books to read. 30 days to prepare, and about 1,500 pages to consume. I set a goal for reading 50 pages every night.
After a week, I was slightly behind schedule. I re-calibrated to 56 pages per night.
A little later, I had fallen behind again, and ramped up to 62 pages.
When I had two days left, I still had 300 pages remaining: 150 pages each night.
What I realized was that for the first part of the month, even if I was far below my daily goal, it wouldn’t take much additional work to make up the lost ground.
But toward the end of the month, things changed substantially. With time compressed, the burden increased significantly each day.
Take a look at this graph showing how those 50 pages per night would have played out if I had delayed. If I had procrastinated, it wouldn’t seem so bad at first … but it would get tough eventually.
Sure, it’s simple math. But for me, seeing consequence of falling behind — seeing it so clearly — helps me to remember: a little bit each day goes a long way. Little by little, drip by drip.
Whether it’s reading, or exercising, or practicing a skill … whatever it is, the cost of delaying isn’t noticeable at first. But it can add up.
Let’s work each day so that big number goes in the “what I’ve done” column, and not the column for what’s left to do.