I’m a big to-do lister. I make one each night for the next day to help me to organize my thoughts + plans before going to bed. I often divide the list into different categories: work, kids/home and other to help further distinguish what needs to get done. On any given day, the priority is of course to the “MITs” (most important tasks), but then there are all those other tasks…
However, similar to many people, there are items that have been lingering on my to do list for way too long. I keep adding them to my list and they still don’t get done. I add them to my calendar on a day or weekend where I know I’ll have an open window of time and yet, I do not cross them off. The items seem so large (+ truthfully annoying) that I don’t really know how to start tackling them. And at the same time, I realize part of the reason is that I’ve overloaded my to-do list with too much stuff + end up feeling worse. Sounds familiar?
So I decided to create a “crap list.” It’s all the stuff that keeps falling to the bottom of the list and makes me feel annoyed at myself for not dealing with it. Believe me, always easier to help someone else change their behavior than change your own!
Instead of adding these things to my regular to do list, I have a new list of things that I find harder to motivate to get done. And the truth is, that when I look at the list all together (instead of part of a regular, daily to-do list), it helps me realize that the tasks are actually not that daunting after all. Also, I’ve bundled the items together in different categories to see what kind of work is needed for each one: home, phone calls, errands.
So here’s how I’m going to deal with my “crap list”:
Get started: JUST get started. Not on all of it but on one thing first. So actually I already did one thing on this list: contact real estate agents as we are thinking of moving this year. So phew–that wasn’t so bad. I made the first call, the second one and there you go. Why did that take me so long?
Small chunks: A good friend of mine (life coach Marieke Bosch Larose from Your Novel Life) talks about breaking things down into “turtle steps” (yes, even smaller than baby steps) so you make a task seem effortless. For the health insurance forms (must must submit by end of the month!), I am going to make a separate list of exactly what I need to do, step-by-step, including: contact providers for receipts, fill out forms, make photocopies, etc. Once I see it in so many little parts, it’s actually not that bad after all. And for the backlog of files that has been piling up on our cabinet, I will set a timer for 15 minutes to get me started and to do it for a short, specific period of time.
Bundle items: I’m not a big fan of errands (unless it means a trip to Trader Joes or a flea market!). I can think of many other things I would rather do than errands. But if I bundle them together and just make an “errand day or afternoon” I can cross several things off this list at once and that would be awesome.
Rewards: Assign yourself a reward for accomplishing a particularly daunting task. Whether it’s 30 minutes of Pinterest or Facebook after crossing something off your list or a walk outside or chocolate + coffee (my rewards of choice), think of something you can do for yourself that will make the task more fun.
Good luck with your not-so-crappy-just-do-it list!
First image via Life Hacker