photo credit: DesheBoard
Do you have a mountain of things you need to get done? Does the sight or thought of it paralyze you into inaction or procrastination disguised as busywork? Well I hope to show you light at the end of that tunnel and a technique to get out the other end and into the light!
Over the last couple months I have been working on several home renovations. I was blessed to have my father as my partner in the project. Actually, he was the leader of the project. Why? Because he is the original king of “Getting Things Done!” He could have written the book, but he was too busy getting things done all his life! So I learned some great things from him that I will share with you now.
When faced with a mountain of tasks where do you start? And how do you get it all done? The answer: “Quick Daily Lists” and lots of “Doing.” Here’s how.
Quick Daily Lists and Doing
The thing with lists that has always tripped me up in the past is spending too much time on them and putting too much on any given daily list. Here’s how to make lists work for you.
1. Have one “Master List.” All your foreseeable tasks will be on this list. Add tasks to as you think of them or as they are presented to you. This will allow you to prioritize and get your most important tasks done first. You will be in proactive not reactive mode making you more effective. You can pick and choose from this master list for your daily list each day. Update your master list at least weekly or as needed.
2. Write out your Quick Daily List. Each day sit in a place without distraction or computer and write out all the things you should do that day. Set a reasonable, yet short, time limit such as 15 minutes. If you have room in the day you can add other less priority items. This is your Quick Daily List. Leave room to write numbers next to each so you know exactly what to do after each task. Don’t forget to write in mealtimes, breaks, and time for driving or transition time. If you want more detailed help on using daily lists check out this post.
3. Prioritize the list. Often, but not always, an easy way to know what your priorities are to ask yourself “what is the toughest thing I need to do?” Usually that is what you should do first. Next hardest is second, and so on.
4. Start doing! In no time you will be warmed up. Check off items as you complete them. Change your list as needed throughout the day. Some things will have to be moved to tomorrow or maybe to your Master List if you need to wait for something in order to complete that task.
5. Stop for meals and breaks. Don’t skip eating. If you do this, you will be low on energy. Energy is what you need to get things done. You don’t need coffee. You need good healthy food (and enough sleep too!) My dad has eaten lunch at 12 and dinner at 6pm every day of his life. He doesn’t need coffee. He is able to be so productive because he lives a very balanced life. This may seem very unexciting. There’s no adrenaline rush that we modern people love so much. Ah, but when you are able to look back at your steady and continual accomplishments, that is a rich reward that will more than make up for the addictive frenzied lifestyle in which most of us currently live.
6. Mentally: keep a calm steady mind. Don’t allow yourself to think anxious thoughts. Don’t contemplate the large mountain. Simply work on the immediate task at hand. Have faith that by simply plugging away you will complete it all. (Or at least the most important things – as long as you are prioritizing!) This is an important step. Keep coming back to this all day.
7. Stop work for the day. You could create tomorrow’s list or do it first thing in the morning. Have dinner and enjoy some evening activities. Review your accomplishments and be proud of yourself. Then let the day go.
I’ve seen my Dad live this way all his life, but during this gigantic project I truly tried to model his strategies and, wow, do they work! As I look back I can see that I accomplished so much. Before this experience I don’t think I could have done something like this by myself. Now I know I could.
This is not to say that I haven’t accomplished large amounts of tasks before in my life. I have. I guess the difference is that now I have the tools to do it much more effectively and also with a sense of calm and confidence that I will get it all done. This is contrasted with how I used to feel inside which was overwhelmed, impatient, and frustrated.
- Keep Quick Daily Lists.
- Get busy Doing your highest priority tasks, one after the other.
- Keep Balance with breaks, rest, and eating.
- Cultivate a Calm Mindset of confidence and serenity.
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