Fridays are tip days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Most people I know, myself included, have things we want to get done. These are not the ordinary things like “do the laundry”, but bigger things like “write a book”. Yet most of us don’t make much progress on these projects.
The Advice Out There…
I’ve read a whole bunch of advice on how to do this over the years. “Balance your roles”, “only work on the important stuff”, “delegate everything that doesn’t move you forward”,”do your work first thing in the day”. These are all pieces of advice which individually never set well with me.
After all, I can’t delegate everything, because I don’t have a June Cleaver waiting around the corner to take over my household duties. I can’t balance my roles without adding more to an already overburdened schedule. I can’t only work on my projects, because that would leave things like earning a living out in the cold. And I can’t do my work first thing in the day because that is generally when my employer would like me to be working on their projects – the ones they pay me to work on.
The Pickle Jar
A few years ago I heard about an analogy that made a lot of sense. If you have an empty pickle jar, a few large rocks, some pebbles and some sand. If you put the items in the jar in order of increasing size, you will not have enough room to get the big rocks in. The way to make it work is to put the big rocks into the jar first, then fill in the gaps with the pebbles and then the sand.
So goes our projects. If we work on the small stuff which is most plentiful, we won’t have enough time for our big rocks, or the projects that matter the most to us.
So the question becomes, how to get to the Big Rocks?
Getting To The Big Rocks
While I can’t use any method that I talked about above to fit my life, I can apply the principles together.
Identify The Rocks
First, I have to decide what the big rocks are. Unless I can recognize them, I won’t find room for them. My big rocks are taken from my lists that I made with the 2012 Creating Your Goddess Year. These are the things that would rock my world (no pun intended). Writing and publishing a book is one of my big rocks right now.
I also look at these big rocks during my weekly review. I have pages in my planner listing what I want to do and by when (if there is a firm deadline). I make sure that I include these projects on my target list, and I mark them with a star, so when the item is complete, I know to put the next thing to do on my list. In the case of writing the book, I simply have to write every day.
Plan 3 Must-Dos Every Day
My problem with most project and task systems is that there is too much going on. On the flip side, I have seen systems that say once you’ve done three things, you’re done for the day. So instead of going to one extreme of the other, I list out tasks in three categories: Must Dos, Would Like To Do, and If I Have Time.
Every night, I pick out the three Must Dos for the next day. These are usually big rock items, but sometimes a big rock falls into the Like To list. Big Rocks never get onto the If I Have Time list, because they won’t get done.
My rules is that I may not get to the Must Dos first thing in the day, but they absolutely have to be done as soon as my time permits. They take precedence over the items in the other lists, and definitely before any minutiae that repeats itself (such as laundry, cleaning, reading, television).
As part of my nightly planning session, I also look at where I am on the projects. Am I getting done what I want to? Do I need to move in another direction? Do I have the supplies I need?
By asking myself these questions, I am less likely to procrastinate doing something for whatever reason may pop up.
I find that by following these steps I am able to make large amounts of progress on whatever I am attempting to do.
Do you have any tips about how you get your important projects done? Share below.
Photo by mikebaird