To Do Lists
For a long while I assumed that if I wanted to achieve a long and complex task I had to throw as much time and effort at it as I could, usually in big chunks of time.
As I rarely had big chunks of time, these projects tended to moulder through lack of attention.
Then thinking about how I write novels – 500 words one day, maybe 1,000 words the next, it dawned on me that the little and often approach might bear more fruit.
I have since applied this idea more widely. Instead of carving out a whole morning to concentrate on one area, I will identify a single task and concentrate on that such as tidying the household paperwork. Once that is done I’ll move on to hoover a couple of rooms of the house, then I’ll write a blog piece. Then I’ll prep dinner before illustrating the blog piece and uploading it. Then I’ll work on the household finances before cleaning the bathroom. You get the idea.
Mash That List
My free time is a mash up of tasks on my to do list.
When I tried out this approach I found not only did I achieve more stuff, none of the tasks tackled felt boring or overwhelming because I wasn’t spending too much time on any one of them.
Imagine sitting down to do your tax return. I know – bear with me. Your heart sinks. You know it’s important but you also know it’s boring. It’s an afternoon of your life you’ll never get back. Now imagine sitting down to do the first part of your tax return and then moving on to something more pleasant like reading a couple of chapters of the book you’re presently enjoying. Taking that approach the tax return will be done within the week without any of the associated pain or boredom that usually accompanies it.
To my analytical and ordered mind, mashing up tasks took a little adjusting to. It still strikes me as a slightly messy compromise but I cannot argue with the results. When I first attempted it I had ticked so many tasks off my list that when I sat down to enjoy a cup of tea and reflect I could hardly believe it. What made the realisation even more satisfying was the fact that I had reached the end of that weekend without feeling tired/grumpy/impatient/bogged down or overwhelmed, all my standard responses when faced with my tsunami of outstanding tasks. Mashing up not only allowed me to achieve stuff it made me feel better and that’s got to be a good thing.