We all have been in the situation where we are faced with a seemingly massive task that requires many steps and some effort to resolve. Perhaps it’s a pile of papers to sort through, maybe it’s a list of drawers to clean around the house or maybe it’s a project to design a flyer for your business. Whatever it is, looking at it in its entirety can be very daunting – and this can often lead to you delaying in even attempting to complete it as you anticipate it will need a lot of time, which you are pressed for in the best of circumstances! So in the end the pile persists, the to do list remains unchecked and the project is a nonstarter– and all the time you are filled with a looming sense of burden in your mind till it can get done.
I have been there a few times but as a lover of “Getting Things Done, I’m always open to trying approaches to conquering the to do list. Recently I was inspired to try a new approach to attacking a burdensome task that had been on my to do list for a long time. It worked so well that I would love to share it with you too!
I had a task to do that was not something difficult – I needed to sort through a collection of items that had accumulated on my dresser over some time. It was a box consisting of a broken bracelet, a lone earring, perhaps a broken clasp that needed fixing- that kind of stuff. I found it really challenging to find the time -and energy, to just knuckle down and sort through it all and each time I laid eyes on the box, I felt a sense of dread and annoyance which wasn’t pleasant- and I knew wasn’t healthy for me either!
So I tried a newly inspired “One-A-Day approach”. Here are my findings:
Old approach: Wait for a day where I could commit two hours to sitting down and sorting through the box.
Result: Weeks went by, and I wasn’t able to find the time to tackle the task.
New One-A-Day approach: Break the task down into steps (in this case divide the box into 10 items that needed sorting/packing away) and do just one thing a day in that task. For me, that meant putting away just one thing from my box away a day. No more, and no less.
Result: I enjoyed having a much smaller task to focus on a day. Putting away one thing meant only committing five minutes in my day, which was much more manageable. After ten days, my box was empty and my task was completed! And each day seeing the pile getting smaller was a great mental boost.
So whilst this took ten days to finally complete, at least it finally did get completed! Perhaps at the outset ideally I wouldn’t have wanted to wait ten days to do the job, but in reality if I waited to get it all done in one day I would have waited way more than ten days!
I now do this for anything I have to complete – like watching a series of clips from a recorded conference or talk, cleaning my study desk, or studying material for a course – it can be applied to anything!
All the best with trying the One-A-Day Approach and do let me know how you get on.