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02 May

A to-do-task is shorter than a workday

Datum: 2018-05-02 09:48

One of the most com­mon mis­stakes regard­ing struc­ture I encounter when meet­ing my clients is that they cre­ate to-do-tasks that are too big. They do well up to a cer­tain point; they use the lat­est list-app, man­age to gath­er all the notes on what they have to do into one sin­gle list, and no longer have loose notes lay­ing about. But, the list is a mix of both big and small tasks. Some tasks are more tempt­ing than oth­ers, and these are often the short­er ones that are easy to do and check off the list. Some tasks are more exten­sive and per­haps so big that they catch them­selves repeat­ed­ly think­ing Oh, I’ll deal with that lat­er” or even I need to get going with this — but I don’t have time right now”. The tasks they have defined too broad­ly and that are sim­ply too big, are the ones that keep get­ting left behind on the list, turn­ing into leav­ens” and giv­ing them a bad con­science for no good reason.

Check items off often
It feels great to tick a task off as done; every­one I have met so far agree on that. Speak­ing for myself, I love feel­ing this won­der­ful feel­ing sev­er­al times a day as it induces hope, moti­va­tion and a sense of pro­gres­sion. If you are any­thing like me, then you need to tick sev­er­al tasks off every day as well. In order to do so, we need to make sure that every task is short­er than a work­day, so that we will have time for sev­er­al tasks in a day.

Let this be your rule-of-thumb: a to-do-task is short­er than a workday.

Do this
If you, like I, want to have a to-do-list from which you get to check off items often and where you feel that there is a lot hap­pen­ing, sig­nal­ing progress and devel­op­ment, then do this:

  1. Take out your to-do-list.

  2. Look it over. Are there any tasks that actu­al­ly take longer than a day to com­plete? If so, then move them to your overview of more exten­sive projects and tasks, from which you define the first step as a to-do-task and put that on your to-do-list instead. This way you divide what takes longer than a day to do into small­er steps and they become eas­i­er to both get start­ed with and fin­ish on time.

  3. When you have gone through the entire list and made sure that all the tasks it con­tains take no longer than a day to com­plete (just to be clear; each task will not take more than a day to com­plete, not all tasks put togeth­er), then you are done for now. Now get to work — start work­ing with the tasks on the list.

Flex­i­ble instead of phlegmatic
If you refine your to-do-list so that every task writ­ten on it take no longer than a day to com­plete, your list will become a much more use­ful tool. Every time you open the list you will now only see things you could do with ease, rather than just get remind­ed of all the larg­er tasks you need to get going with soon, once you have time. In one sim­ple step you have decreased the risk of cre­at­ing more leav­ens out of tasks that are left on the list for long peri­ods of time. If you have made the tasks small­er but still have a lot to do, then the list will have become longer than before, but you will get to tick things off it much more often. Even after just a short while of effort you get to expe­ri­ence the sat­is­fac­tion of see­ing the list dimin­ish in size. Trust me, it is worth the effort. 

What is your way?
Do you have some oth­er rule-of-thumb that you go by regard­ing your to-do-tasks? We’d all like to know! Share your thoughts!