‘I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.’ Mahatma Gandhi
There’s something totally frustrating about having things on your ‘to do’ list that never get done.
Regardless of whether they are written down or just in your head, the tasks you don’t get to cause you internal grief because they tell you something about yourself. That maybe you’re not that good at getting things done.
There are two parts to this problem. Firstly there’s the question of which tasks you include on your list and secondly, there’s the issue of overcoming procrastination.
Lengthy ‘to do’ lists are a trap.
While it’s important that you have a long term vision and detailed goals, when it comes to tasks, it’s far more effective to have a list that includes only your current projects. And by current, I mean those that you can realistically complete within the next week. Longer term items are better left on your goals list. When a goal becomes a high priority, then it’s time to detail the actions and include those actions on your task list.
A task, by definition is a ‘definite piece of work’. Tasks are specific, finite and measurable. When you assign a task to your list, you should have an idea of how long it will take to complete and ideally, you’ll block out a specific time to do just that.
Review your list now (or as soon as you’ve finished reading this) and if you’re brave enough, delete some things forever.
Any longer term items should be moved to your goals list. All other tasks should be reviewed and broken into small, measurable chunks that can be scheduled into your calendar within the next week.
Then if you find yourself avoiding an activity even when it’s scheduled, you’ll know that procrastination is your issue.
A study undertaken by Roy Baumeister found that students who spent just a short period of time each morning walking with a book on their head to improve their posture ended up eating better, studying harder, and sleeping more. If you’ve previously tried everything else to help you overcome procrastination, start by building your self discipline.
Create one new habit and stick to it for seven days.
Try these (or create one of your own):
- Set your alarm to get out of bed ten minutes early to exercise or meditate
- Create a new habit of tidying your desk at the end of each day
- Commit to making your bed before you leave every morning
- Get your tax done (I know it’s boring but you’ll feel so much better once it’s out of the way)
- Walk around the house with a book on your head for five minutes each day!
Don’t expect to become disciplined in every area of your life overnight but at least by getting started you might overcome some procrastination.
Then when it comes to tackling a task you’ve been struggling with, simply get started at your scheduled time. You might just surprise yourself.