Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
With returning back to work, I realized that unless I made significant changes in my off-work activities, I would never finish the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2008. At the same time, I felt pulled in a million directions by things that were not book writing. All of them needed to be done (or so I thought), and nagged at me every time I sat down to write.
What I came to realize is that I had to take definite steps to clear out the minutiae so that I could get on to the book.
Getting Rid of the Nagging Tasks
By the time I started back to work after an almost three month hiatus (read: unemployed), I had wrapped up many on-going projects that had been sitting on my lists for months or years. There were also things I had started in that time frame but had not completed.
I started working with Mark Forster’s Autofocus System, and I was amazed to see that many of the outstanding items were quickly checked off. By putting everything on a single list and scanning that list for what “grabbed” me, I naturally gravitated to complete the many quick but nagging tasks that had been sitting on the list. After four days of using the technique, I had cleared out 30 little tasks.
But still, there was too much to do, and I was resisting writing because of the volume of items on my lists.
The Mental Shift
It took a mental shift to get me to free up the rest of my time. I decided to table many projects…for the time being. Not forever, or to be reconsidered at some unnamed date, but for a month.
Take for instance a quilting kit I had received for the holidays in 2006. I managed to get the top put together during my hiatus. I want desperately to finish this project just because it has been laying around for a long time. While I really resisted putting it back on my someday/maybe list (means “rarely or never” in actuality), I was able to make myself mentally comfortable by putting it off for a month. At the end of the month, I can reconsider if once again it needs to take the back seat to my writing.
The shift is a matter of semantics, I know. I am still putting off the project. But what I have done is to renegotiate with myself so that I can put it off knowing I have set a date to re-examine its priority.
Difference from GTD Someday/Maybe
The difference is in how I view the actuality of accomplishment. I still have a someday/maybe list that gets looked at maybe every six months. These stalled tasks are not in that classification. They are still active, but with deferred start dates, so they have not slipped into the abyss of the “someday”.
By using this approach, I feel comfortable leaving things behind. The only task on my lists right now, outside of the daily life maintenance stuff, is the book. I spent a few days clearing out what I could, then I tabled everything else temporarily.
Photo by JOE M500