Stop Starting. Start Finishing.
I may sound like a broken record, but I don’t have anything to lose. And maybe you’ll gain something.
I beg of you. Keep your to-do list in check. Many of us have lists longer than we want to think about. And that’s the problem…we don’t think about them, except to proclaim how behind we are, or how busy we are, and can’t get things done. We just let our list hang out in the cavities of our cranium, begging for attention, and waking us up at 4:05am.
Do you have anything on your list that’s been there a month or more? A year or more? What about cleaning out the closet in the upstairs guest room? Or finally organizing all your digital photos? Or starting a weekly meal plan? Or donating the clothing your kids have outgrown? You catch my drift.
Stop. Right. Now.
It’s time to admit that these to-dos will never be to-dones. And that is OK. What’s not OK is to keep fooling yourself. You’re not failing, you’re just admitting reality. And that is a good thing. When we “close these loops” by getting them off our to-do list, it frees up our brain to focus on the things that ARE important.
Where do you start?
1) Write down the things you’ve been procrastinating doing. The things you haven’t started yet. Yep, you might need lots of paper. (I’ll wait right here while you grab more notepads.) Now, look at all the items, one at a time, and envision how it would feel to get each one done. Completed. Finished. Crossed-off your list. If you get excited and re-energized about anything, then put it on your “someday” list. For now, the goal is to delete as much as possible. Make a complete list of the things you know you’re not going to do. Now, here’s the fun part. Grab some matches, and a fire-proof container (think clay-pot, metal bucket, old porcelain sink) Put the list in it, light the match and drop it in. You can say a note of thanks to the god-of-all-things-unfinished. And now, be done with it. THE END.
2) Next, look at the rest of your list, which at this point should contain to-dos that you will get done. Remember, there’s a difference between a task and a project. You may have heard me say this before. There’s a difference. A “project” is to clean your entire home. A “task” is to vacuum the living room floor. BIG time difference, right? Once you’ve narrowed it down to things you’ll DO, it’s time to schedule them. Yep, that means opening your digital or paper calendar, and putting them on the day you think you’ll do them. (Please don’t have one huge list. That’s what got you into trouble in the first place.)
3) Now, follow your daily plan. If you don’t get something done, write it on the DAY you plan to do it…not just on the next day, unless you have time in your schedule to do it.
4) STOP STARTING. Many of us get excited about new-shiny things, including some projects. It’s OK to start something new, if your list is manageable. Don’t try to climb Mount Everest if you still have “walk 30 minutes a day” on your priority list. Stop starting new tasks until you have finished the old ones.
5) Rinse and Repeat. Weekly.
This post is dedicated to my new friends at Patterson Elementary in Holly, Michigan.