Tackle your Do List in small pieces

As New Year’s and its inherent ‘resolutions’ approach, here is something I find helpful and thought you might too:

Do you have a Do List? Does it get done? Are there always things on the list that keep moving forward in time, that never seem to get accomplished, or that generally languish? Maybe they are important but not time-sensitive? Try this 3-step approach:

1. Consolidate all the various do lists into 1 or 2 formats that work best for you. I use a computer calendar with an associated ‘To Do’ function that I can note actual or suggested deadlines, then check off as I do them. I also keep a paper chart in my ‘day-by-day’ to make notes on bigger goals I have for the year. I review it from time to time and can add the date I complete each item. If I don’t get to all of them, I move items over to next year’s goals charts. It is a nice way to see, at a glance, not only what you want to do, but what you have accomplished!

2. List 2-4 tasks or ‘to do’ items that you want to get done. They are likely the ones that keep getting pushed to the back because they are important but not time-sensitve; there is always something ‘else’ you do instead, but you really want to complete these 2-4 tasks. Write them down. Maybe even (better still), share them with someone – tell them you plan to complete these tasks within a certain period of time. Making note of, and sharing the tasks makes them more concrete and perhaps there is a better chance you will do them.

3. Pick one hour each week to work on one of your tasks listed above. This step is the most important one, I think. Ideally your one hour each week is the same, Tuesdays 11:30 am -12:30pm, or… Treat it like a meeting or appointment. Don’t tell yourself, “Oh, it is just something I made up, and I am kinda busy right now, so I will do it later.”  Do it in the block you said you would. Breaking down any task, no matter how large or daunting it is or seems to be makes it much more ‘do-able’, both in your mind, and in reality, by saying, “I will just spend one hour on this.” Set a timer. See what you accomplish. You might work on one task each week until it is completed, or move around between tasks to add interest!

Colleagues and I did this for a writing support group. We also met in person (you could do it by phone, twitter, email….) for 2 minutes to say what we were going to work on, then at the end of the hour, we met again and said what we did. It works. It makes a large task much smaller. Each accomplishment will help motivate you, I hope, to keep up this style of tackling the do list. You might even add another hour each week, but don’t start too big. Make sure you can achieve what you set out and who cannot spend one full hour each week on something important to them?

Good wishes with this 3-step strategy to tackling your do list!

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About cassidyinview

I am an educator, facilitator, writer, editor, photographer and biologist. I design and lead customized workshops, courses, and programming in the areas of teaching and learning, professional development, science education and natural history, especially ornithology.
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