It's About Time
Mini-tasks more likely to get done
Do you have a backlog of tasks that seem to have become permanent fixtures on your to-do list? Do those "nice to do" ideas (such as sending friendly notes and cards) remain good intentions instead of actions? Are there certain household chores that you let slide?
Identifying how long a task would take can help us take action. A client had a pile about 8 inches high on her desk. She wasn't sure what all was in there, so we took the time to sort.
I explained that typically 40 percent of such a pile probably needs to be filed or put away, another 40 percent could probably be tossed, leaving only 20 percent that needs action. And, of that, a fair number would be "mini-tasks," which could be done quickly and painlessly.
"Mini-task," she said, "I like that!" Sure enough, two-thirds of the action items in the pile could be dealt with in 10 minutes or less. To keep them separate and to encourage completion we put them in a transparent folder labeled "Mini-tasks."
Too often the little niceties in life, such as keeping in touch with a friendly phone call, writing thank-you notes or mailing postcards from travels end up being merely good intentions. That needn't be if we recognize them for what they are: mini-tasks.
Even needed household chores such as balancing the checkbook, emptying the garbage, scooping the litter box, purging the refrigerator, making the bed or folding a basket of laundry can be mini-tasks.
The first step of a large project might be a mini-task.
My clients are used to hearing me ask, "How long will it take?" One client even has a picture of me on his bulletin board, with the words "How long will it take?" coming out of my mouth! It's a visual reminder to look at tasks objectively and get things done.
When I view items on my desk that have been there for a while, I ask myself that question and wonder why I've let them go for so long. Mailing postcards from a recent trip, mailing the newspaper clipping with my friend's quote, mailing my nephew some Sudoku puzzles, signing up for the extended warranty for my clothes dryer -- all mini-tasks!
I encourage you to make a list of tasks and chores that have lingered too long. Identify those that are mini-tasks and begin to get them done.
Doing one or two a day won't take much time and will provide a feeling of accomplishment. It will be time well spent!
See you in two weeks!
"It's About Time," by Ruth Wong, owner of Organization Plus, runs the fourth Friday of each month. Contact her at "It's About Time," care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org