Small Steps, Tip #2

Hey, you—yeah, you. You with the eleventy bajillion things on your to-do list.

I've got news for you: You don't actually have eleventy bajillion things on your to-do list.

You don't even have twenty things on it.

You have ONE. One thing to do first.

And it's your very next step.

That's it—just the very next step; it's the only thing you need to look at, and then take action on, right now.

(Still overwhelmed? Look at that very next step and break it in half. Start there. Once you begin, momentum will support you. Also? I can support you. Leave a comment below and we'll have you moving in no time.)

Prioritizing, part two

Okay, so, since last week, I've done some fine-tuning of my sticky note method, and here's what I have to share:

1. Color coding. It helps! So do mnemonics.

  • I'm using blue for commitments and agreements, and also for business-related tasks that are important to my overall mission and to developing my work.

  • Green is for anything that is, or might become, a source of income. This makes it really easy for me to spot the activities I need to focus on during whatever hours I've dedicated to work. Money is green and so are the to-do items associated with it!

  • Social correspondence and connection, essentially everything that falls in the personal realm of my life, is pink.

  • The days of the week get orange, but that's only because it was the last color left in the four-pack I had on hand. ;-)

2. Once complete, tasks are plucked from their assigned spots and stacked in the lower corner; at the end of the day, they get moved to the trash.

Currently, I'm using a glass window as my board for arranging and rearranging the sticky notes (fingerprints and smudges abound!).

I like to keep the completed tasks up on the window until the end of the day, because then I'm able to track how much I actually accomplished. Otherwise, it'd be all too easy for me to whine, "I got barely anything done today!" because #chronicoverachiever and #victimoftime. I'd much rather have hard, irrefutable data that allows me to assess how ambitious I was at the start of my day and whether or not my strategy was solid enough to achieve those ambitions (and, also, I'd rather be a #timewarrior).

So, each completed sticky gets stuck to the previously completed sticky until I have a nice little chunk of stickies in the lower corner of my office window.

Right before I sign off for the day, I review the chunk (as well as whatever I didn't get around to) before tossing it in the trash can and situating the following day's tasks.

3. A sticky note that keeps moving from one day to the next is probably a sticky note that needs breaking down into its smaller components.

I'm finding that there's two sticky notes that have covered some serious territory on my window—traveling from Monday to Friday and back again. What does this tell me? I put too big a task on the sticky note and need to determine what mini-steps I can take toward it each day (and create sticky notes for each of those mini-steps), rather than hoping the overarching task will somehow transform into something that's easier or more doable to tackle tomorrow.

And there you have it. Those are my three biggest takeaways from almost two weeks of using this particular self-devised time-chunking method.

Thoughts? Questions? Best practices? Keep 'em coming—I'm learning a lot from your emails.