I think you’ll recognize yourself here. Read on and I’ll share a great trick to become more productive!
So, here’s how I used to function: Every now and then I’d get tired of my somewhat chaotic way of handling all the things I had to get done. Tired of forgetting things, of missing deadlines, of paying reminder fees, and of disappointing people around me counting on me handling things. So I’d make a plan! Hurrah! Sit down and list all the things I had to get done, feel enthusiastic about my plan, execute on the most burning items and then…. never look at my plan again. And repeat every couple of weeks.
Then, a few years back I had the opportunity to attend a course on priority management and realized what I’d been doing wrong. A little bit of further own research in litterature gave me more information to adjust. It’s a simple little adjustment to going about your plans that makes a huge difference to your ability to execute on it and because of the success of executing on it also to stick to it!
Tasks and results are different!
My mistake in my planning was that I had a tendency of listing my desired result instead of tasks. And analyzing my past lists further I realized that pattern. When my desired result was the outcome of one task I usually got it done but when my desired result required multiple tasks I typically didn’t get it done.
- Call mom
- Take out the garbage
- Pick up the kids
- Shop groceries
Desired results (false tasks):
- Change the tires on the car
- Submit my tax return
- Start a business
- Lose weight
Do you see the difference, tasks are easily performed without preparation. The non-tasks however points to something you want done (a result) that will require a lot more than one task to complete. “Change the tires on the car” is probably more of a complete project where you have to buy or pick up winter tires, change into your work clothes, hoist the car, remove summer tires, change to the new ones. So what happens when “change tires on the car” pops up in your head you quickly understand that it is a sequence of tasks and not one and your energy sinks.
However, if you can re-formulate your false task into the true tasks, you will go through those tasks like nothing! You will become so much more effective instantly. Do don’t have to do this in absurdum though, find your balance. You might even argue that in the lists above, “Pick up the kids”, for example, requires a series of tasks. True in some sense but as a whole the sequence does not require a lot of preparation. From this perspective, it is a task.
For the next five days, write down all tasks that pop up in your head and identify if they are true tasks or wanted effects/false tasks. After this exercise you will be a hundred times sharper in defining true tasks and recognizing wanted effects as the projects they are.
I am very interested in hearing how it all worked out for you, post your comments below.