Monday, December 8, 2014

Yes, You Can Eat That Elephant -- One Bite At a Time

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and thought, “I don’t even know where to begin”?

We all have. But here’s something you may not know: We get overwhelmed not because there are too many things on that list, but because what’s on your list is not actionable.

For example, if your to-do list says something like, “New website,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. A new website is not something you can just do. A new website is a project, not a “to-do.” It requires several steps to complete, and likely several days or weeks of time. When it appears on your to-do list, it’s destined to be the thing that gets pushed back to tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. Because it’s just not doable.

The key to getting more done? Recognize those overwhelming projects and turn them into doable tasks instead.

Here’s how to quickly tell the difference:

A task begins with a verb. “Buy a domain” is a task. “Install WordPress” is a task. “Order a logo” is even a task. And when you put them all together (with some others) they equal “New website.”

A project or a goal is a set of related tasks that cannot be completed all at one time. You probably can’t sit down and build a new website in an afternoon. You can’t write a book in a day or two.

So when your goal is big, such as developing a new website or writing a book or creating a new ecourse, it helps to break those projects down into small, actionable tasks before adding them to your to-do list.

Think about the actual steps that need to happen to reach your goal. Do you need to order a book cover or outline the content or contact someone for an interview? Those are all things that fit on your to-do list. Put them together in the correct order, and you’ve got a project. Complete them one at a time, on time, and you’ve completed your goal by your deadline.

To map out your plan for achieving your goal, follow these steps:

1. List out all the tasks that must be completed before you can say you’ve reached your goal or finished your project.

2. Consider how long it might take to complete each task. Some will take minutes, others might take several hours or even a whole day, but you should be able to “ballpark it” to figure out just how long your goal will take to reach.

3. Grab your calendar and start making notes about what task will be completed by which dates. This will help you set a realistic goal for the entire project.

4. Add only the actionable steps to your current to-do list. Tasks that you can’t do yet don’t belong on your list, just as the goal itself doesn’t. These things aren’t actionable (yet) so don’t clutter up your space and head with them.

Breaking a big goal down into bite-sized chunks is a great way to get focused and get more done. When you’re only worried about the next small step, it’s much easier to continue on the path than when you’re constantly looking at the horizon and not seeing much progress.

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