The Magic of Micro-Progress

Studies show that you can trick your brain into increasing dopamine levels by setting and achieving micro-goals.

One of the productivity hacks that consistently works is both the simplest and the most difficult to master: just getting started.

Enter micro-progress.

The idea goes like this:

For any task you have to complete, break it down into the smallest possible units of progress and attack them one at a time.

Let’s say you’re an editor with a weekly newsletter to write. Rather than approach that task as “Write Monday’s newsletter,” break down the very first steps you have to take and keep slicing them up into tiny, easily achievable micro-goals:

  • Step 1: Open a Google Doc

  • Step 2: Name that Google Doc

  • Step 3: Write a single sentence

  • And so on

What’s so striking about applying this law of motion to productivity is that once you shift your thinking into this frame — I’ve started being productive, so I’m going to keep being productive — you achieve those micro-goals at what feels like an exponentially increasing rate without even realizing it.