Do you ever feel like you don't know where to start on days bursting with things you need to do? I've felt the urge to throw my hands up in the air and walk away on those days. I knew that wasn't an option, though. Plus, I'm stubborn, sometimes to the point of tossing aside reason.
In this situation, what's the most constructive thing to do?
The answer may surprise you because it's not earth-shattering. You've likely heard it many times before: do one thing at a time.
All too often, this advice gives birth to ineffective to-do lists. Please, please, please let me show you a better way.
A Fact with Wow Factor
"Small victories" ignite motivation and subsequent action. The spike in creativity and productivity leads to bigger wins. [Source]
Stress Less Tip
To-do lists are nothing more than a series of short-term goals. When used haphazardly, they lead to overwhelm and give a false sense of fruitless effort.
A small victory occurs when you accomplish one of the smaller steps toward a larger goal. The chunking method divides complex ideas into more manageable segments. Though frequently applied as a memory or teaching strategy, chunking works great when setting goals, too.
How far should you break down a goal to take advantage of this technique? As with most psychological hacks, it depends. Sorry, I know that doesn't seem helpful. Consider all chunking possibilities that apply to your circumstance. You might break a big goal down by:
Some goals lend themselves better to one way of chunking versus another. If you want to lose weight, you'll get better results with a daily calorie target (measurable quantity) rather than an ideal jean size (milestone).
Other times, combining chunking methods produces the best outcome. To pay down debt, setting a specific spending or saving amount (measurable quantity) each week (time) will move you toward your end goal faster.
Traditional to-do-lists don't take into account how long you need to finish each item. A short list of three tasks seems quick and easy at first glance. What if it consists of cleaning the house, doing laundry, and planning next week's meals? There's nothing quick or easy on that list now!
I've got an alternative planning method for you. Grab a pen and some sticky notes. Then, watch the following video.
Use the 2-question test as a fail-safe measure to prevent overwhelm. Before you put an item on any list, put it through the process below.
Secondly, if you didn't schedule a task into your day, don't put it on your agenda. Block off the time in your planner or calendar. Otherwise, it doesn't belong on your daily, weekly, or even monthly reminders.
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