We are taking a closer look at our to-do list today.
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The 30-Day Minimalism Challenge
We are taking a small break from Why on Earth Do You Still Have That?, to really push ourselves to the decluttering limits with a month-long challenge led by The Minimalists. We are joining the 30-Day Minimalism Game, challenging us to get rid of one thing on the first day of the month, two things on the second day, three items on the third and so on. Anything can go!
Last week, in Episode 13 we shared days 1-4. Today we are sharing days 5 through 11! Things are starting to add up quickly.
You may notice that both days 8 and 9 show Bethany shredding paper. She shred a total of 21.3 pounds of paper! It was such a large amount we counted it as 2 days.
It is not too late for you to join in! Share your giveaway items with us by using the hashtags #AtoBpodcast and #minsgame.
Taking Action on our To- Do List
In Episode 7, Making a Better To-Do List, we decluttered our to-do lists. We are a huge fan of decluttering, be it items or pesky to-dos! We took a good hard look at our to-do list items and questioned whether they deserved our precious time. All items got a second look, especially if they had been sitting on our list for a while. There might be good reasons you haven’t conquered a to-do and it might just be time to delete it from your list.
So what’s next? Once your to-do list contains just want and need to do items, how do you get the willpower and discipline to get from “to-do” to done?
Today we are focused on TAKING ACTION! We want your to-do list to be a useful tool and in order for that to happen we have to get the tasks done that we have on our list.
Here are 5 Steps to help you cross those to-do’s off your list
The 1st step is to set aside time. This sounds easy and kind of obvious, but when it comes down to it, this is a really hard step to actually put into practice. It can be a daily or weekly block of time that is specifically for those pesky tasks.
I plan one day of the week as my “office day” to conquer items I am dreading, like phone calls. I also view my 3-year-old’s daily nap as a time to knock one or two things off my list.
The most important thing is you find a way to work it into your day or week, whatever that looks like for you. If don’t set aside time, you can’t expect to be productive and whittle down your list.
Once you have time to work on your to-do’s, it is time to decide which task to actually do. With your list in front of you, rank what is most important or star your have-to-do’s.
Don’t get hung up with making it more complicated than it needs to be. There is no need to prioritize every item on the whole list. Bethany likes to highlight her top 3 to do’s. I like to rank them #1 through 5. You can always go back and reevaluate once you get your top 3 crossed off.
Brian Tracy, who has some excellent books on productivity including, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, recommends starting with the hardest task first. It definitely is a huge motivation to get that big, hairy task crossed off your list. However, sometimes I find it useful for my own psyche to start with easy wins first. When I get a few quick tasks completed and crossed off my list, I feel a surge of forward momentum that propels me towards the harder tasks.
3. Maximize Your Energy
Speaking of energy, pay attention to your tasks and the times when you have the most energy. As I am sure we have all heard before, some people have more energy in the morning and some later in the day. Plan around what works best with your own energy levels. It can even be a certain day of the week.
Bethany knows she has a shorter day on Wednesday and so she can plan a few errands after work. A weekly errand time can serve as a great placeholder in your week when you know you can tackle some errands. Gretchen Rubin calls it a Power Hour! That once a week time to rev up and get things done.
Some activities can give you energy to fuel you through your tasks and we are not just taking about coffee. Music, exercise, and a friend to work with, can all give you extra energy. Bethany shared an Un-Procrastination Day Plan from Real Simple, taking advantage of the extra motivation a buddy and a well-planned day can bring. We love the idea of grabbing a friend and conquering to-do’s together.
4. Focus on One Task at a Time
When working on a task, particularly an unpleasant one, distractions can seem to come from every angle. One tactic to stay focused is to keep your to-do list near you when working on projects or other tasks. Inevitably, when sorting through papers, closets, etc, you will come across tasks to add to your list. Write down anything that comes to mind not associated to your current task, then get back to the task at hand.
5. Break Larger Tasks into Smaller, Doable Steps
The book, Getting Things Done by David Allen, has some great tips if you want to dive deeper into productivity and time management. One of the big takeaways was the notion that we may be writing our to-do lists all wrong. Instead of adding “make family photo-book” on your list, break down bigger projects into small actionable, manageable steps. Even include descriptive verbs of the action that needs to be done (call, find, look up, return).
For example, download photos from vacation onto computer or read reviews for 3 photo-book sites, all specify a concrete task that can be acted on so you know the exact place to begin. (Side-note to save you a step, I recently switch to Mixbook as my go-to photobook site. I love the layout options and is super easy to use if you are in the market.)
If you’re joining us in the minimalists challenge, please share your giveaway items with us by using the hashtags #AtoBpodcast and #minsgame. Share on social media #atobpodcast, or send us an email Hello @ AtoBpodcast.com.
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