Do you remember a time when you could work on a full to-to list without getting overwhelmed? Are you finding it hard to stay focused and get your project done or just getting it started?
Maybe it’s nature taking its course, as you get older you can’t multi-task as well as you could. Personally, I love to blame social media for distractions
Which seems like an easier to-do list to you?
List A: Write down everything you’d like to get done today
List B: Write out three things you must get done today
When you have a to-do list, as you write things down, other things come into play. You just keep adding to the list.
- go shopping
- clean the studio
- clean the kitchen
- work on your new project
- meet X for lunch
- book doctors appointment
- take the dog to the vet
This seems ok, right? not too many things, you should be able to get this done?
What if you wrote only three things you must get done today?
- grocery store: buy milk, eggs, and bread
- take the dog to the vet
- meet x for lunch
Seems easy…there is no wiggle room, these three things must get done today.
This is what might happen:
List A: you walk into the studio to clean it up and notice some un-sharpened pencils. Won’t take but a minute to sharpen these. Then you come across some unfinished pieces and thing that you really should finish these and as you look at each one, you put them on your shelf so you don’t forget. Your notification goes off for Facebook. Better go see who posted. Your alarm goes off to take the dog to the vet. Shoot… forgot to do the dishes, do it when you get back. No can’t, meeting X for lunch, will do it after that. You get back and start to clean the kitchen and then get frustrated because you forgot to put the trash out in the morning and you missed the pickup. Great, now you have to store the trash bag somewhere. Your garbage can is already full. So you go into the garage to look for a box. You forgot to book your doctor’s appointment and the office is closed now. Oh well, you will do it tomorrow, better get into the studio. That project you have to work on, there’s no room on your table, because you didn’t clean it up. So you start cleaning and before you know it, it’s time to start preparing supper.
List B: You’re looking at about 3 hours. What do you do for the rest of the day?
How about if you write your to-do list with time blocks? Let’s re-do List A
- do the breakfast dishes and take the trash out (15 minutes)
- take the dog to the vet (1 hour)
- book doctors appointment (5 minutes)
- meet x for lunch (1 hour)
- clean worktable and put supplies away on the shelf (1 hour)
- bring out the supplies for the new project (15 minutes)
- sand and prime (15 minutes)
- paint base-coat (15 minutes)
- let dry (1 hour)
- grocery store: buy milk, eggs, and bread (1 hour – but not really, because you’re doing this while you’re letting the paint dry)
- apply a second coat of paint on the project and let dry overnight
- clean up worktable and put supplies away (15 minutes)
Holy smokes, this looks like a super long list, it’s exhausting, right? But by assigning time blocks this only adds up to 5 hours and 20 minutes.
Now, you may be tempted to add more to the list. Resist the temptation. Life is unpredictable, it might take longer or shorter at the vet. Your lunch with X might go past an hour. You might get stuck in traffic on your way to the grocery store.
If your average day is 8 hours, by assigning time blocks that don’t go past 5 hours (give or take 30 minutes), you can feel confident that you’ll get things done and you know what the best part is…you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something. You were focused and knew exactly what had to get done. You set a timer for each task.
Tasks were written in a natural order and you looked for areas where times overlapped. Letting paint dry, so take the time and go to the grocery store.
If you can assign a minimum of 15 minutes per task, it’s so much easier for you to figure out when to make a second to-do list for the next day. It was a choice to only assign 5 minutes to call the doctor’s office to make an appointment. But if you have to call a friend to book lunch, assign 15 minutes to that, ’cause you the phone call will take longer than 5 minutes.
Repeating this process each day will become easier as you’ll start to train your brain to focus on what’s on the list. By assigning the time blocks, you’ll be more likely to protect your time from time-sucking activities.
Are you up for a challenge? take 5 minutes and think of one project or thing you’ve been putting off or can’t seem to get done. Using the example above, plan out your day for tomorrow to include this project and assign time blocks. Remember, to put this project as a priority, so when you get to the 5 to 51/2 hour time block limit, add the rest of the tasks to the following day and repeat the process.
Tip: by using the 21/90 rule..it takes 21 days to create a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle.
By planning this way for at least 21 days, you’ll be on your way to
- your days being less stressful because you have a plan for the day
- feeling less overwhelmed because you’re limited your total time blocks
- feeling less frustrated because you’re actually getting things done
- your inner critic won’t have much to complain about in the end ’cause you got things done and you’re feeling pretty proud about it
I’d like to say “sorry this post is so long”, but nope. If I can help you get rid of procrastination and help you get things done just by adjusting how you plan your day, it’s all worth it right?
Have an open mind, give this a try. What’s the worse thing that can happen?
Until next time…Stay Inspired