Being a naturally busy person, I tend to get a little overwhelmed by the volume of things I could be doing and so I employ lists. I love checklists and to-do lists but the number of items I put on them contribute towards a state of being I call:
Compulsive Organization Induced Laziness
My propensity to want to organize all the various activities in my life encourage me to create a list of hundreds of items which in turn overwhelm me with the lingering question of “Where do I start?” This ultimately leads to inaction.
To combat this, I’ve developed a small set of rules to help me move forward and get things done. Each of the following is a particular barrier to overcome and how to address it.
Reduce task list.
While the to do list is typically comprised of short and long-term items I try to pick out 3 to 5 priority items to work on that day and don’t return back to the big list until those are done. Any new items that pop-up during this time will get added to the large list for review later.
Don’t wait for the right mood, get started.
As is often the case, I’m not in the mood to sit down on an 8-hour project at 2 in the afternoon right after a nice lunch. However, once I get started and build a little momentum I have a hard time stopping!
Write a priority list, reduce distractions.
If you have too much to focus on or you can’t focus at all turn off your music, get out of your busy office, whatever you have to do to reduce your distractions and focus on one thing at a time. Then create a priority order for the items you need to do and knock them out one by one.
Rethink through your objectives, why are they important?
If what you’re working on is important, bring those reasons to the front of your mind and reaffirm your goals. I often have larger projects to work on that move forward slowly but remembering why I’m doing them often helps re-energize my efforts. This is also a great time for visualization of you achieving your goals. How will it will feel when you’re done?
Anxious About Complication?
Break into smaller tasks.
I’m a programmer and often times my work is “build this big program.” It’s fairly easy to break down these kind of tasks. In my off time, though, I build furniture in my garage which leaves it covered in dust and tools everywhere. “Clean the Garage” isn’t quite as simple but when I sit down and plan my attack I always end of doing a better job and faster than originally expected.
Pick a timeline for the decision.
Being married, I’m sometimes under fire to make a decision about things I’d prefer not to deal with. “When are you going to get that leak fixed” as an example. Picking a date to have a decision made by prepares me to not only make the decision by having time to think about it and research what I need to, but it gives my wife (partner, teammate, co-worker) something to not only hold me accountable to, but it includes her in the planning of that decision.