I recently read Weekly Review over at CreativeGTD, and I was struck by the comment that “My problem at the moment is that i just don’t really feel like getting things done. I have a list of things to do with contexts, but i look at them and don’t want to do them. It’s motivation that’s my real problem. I could sit and tweak my system and organize myself all day, but i have to make myself get the things done.”
This has happened to me on numerous occasions. OK, at least twice a month. Maybe more. And What I found is that when this happens, I need to put my projects list on a diet. It needs to slim down, because internal resistance to doing anything is the flag for me that I’ve got too many things on the list.
After making the discovery that I get more done with a smaller projects list, I decided to formalize my approach to slimming my projects list.
Step 1: Put Everything in One Place
For this step, I put everything that I want to do, now or someday or maybe, in one place. I keep mine in my Bonsai outline.
Step 2: Cull The List
If something doesn’t stand up and shout “Right Away!”, I look a little closer. Is this something I still would like to do? Or is it something that no longer grabs me? If it is the latter, off it goes.
Step 3: Cull the Remaining List
At this point, I should have either eliminated the Maybes, or turned them into Somedays. Now I look again at the list. What is the driving force behind the Someday? For example, if I have “learn French” on the list, is it because I just think it would be cool to speak French, or am I planning a trip to a French-speaking area? Two years ago it would have been the latter, but right now, I need to brush up on my German for a trip. French comes off the list.
Note: to save me from having panic attacks about losing things I may want to do, at this point, I put the item onto a separate Bonsai outline, just in case I might want to look at it later. The outline is called “Rejected”.
Step 4: Look at Timelines
Now I make another pass. Is each item do-able in the next three years? If I’m not willing to say, yes, I’ll do it int the next three years, off it goes.
Step 5: Convert to Projects
My next goal is to “activate” some of these projects. I look at what I’ve already got going, and I try to have no more than 8 going at once. The rest stay on the Someday list.
By doing this regularly, I keep my project list under control, and apply myself to the things I want to do right now. I find that this approach frees me to apply more energy and brings about quicker results than long-drawn-out projects, drawn out simply because of the load I impose on myself.
Photo by malias