Even without a calendar for confirmation, the crowds at my local gym and the counter full of snacks in the kitchen at work, left there by those who have cleared out their cupboards to get rid of temptations, are a clear indicator of the start of a new year. The crowds will die down in a few weeks and someone will eat the treats, but maybe a few of those good New Year’s intentions will stick.
Here on the blog, now that we’ve shared our own ideas for 2017 – my watchword is Joy – it’s time to move from planning to doing; hopefully in a way that will make those plans stick as well. That presents a bit of a challenge, when there are a lot of things that need to be done. How to choose?
At the day job, we’re big on To-Do Lists. We have lists in spreadsheets, and project plans, and calendaring applications – lists that only ever seem to get longer and longer, no matter how many items get crossed off. A long list of tasks can be daunting, and studies have shown that trying to multi-task can often make things worse instead of better.
This year, I’m trying something new.
I have a post-it on my wall at work that says Just One Thing. It’s a note I jotted down from a management training session I attended about increasing happiness in the work place. The idea presented was that focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well increases employee satisfaction and makes for a happier, healthier workplace.
Whether that’s true or not, I do know that I am happier when I don’t have a lot of tasks hanging over my head, whether it’s at work or at home, just like I’m happier and more productive when I’m not surrounded by a lot of clutter. What I’ve also found is that To Do lists actually seem to foster a kind of procrastination. I gravitate toward the tasks I want to do and skip over the others, even if they could be easily accomplished, making the remaining list less and less appealing.
My solution? A marker and a stack of index cards (and not just because I was cleaning house and found I had a life-time supply of each in my desk).
Each card has one word (or one idea, if necessary on it), relating to what I need to get done written on it. For example,
Since I have an abundance of cards, they’re colour coded so I know if the task is work-, home-, or writing-related. Time-constrained cards move to the top of the piles, but otherwise, they’re just in whatever order I thought of them. When it’s time to do something, I pick a card and take care of that task. When that’s done, I toss the card in the recycling bin and pick another.
When it’s writing time, if I don’t have something already in progress or if I get stuck, I pick a card from the writing pile and go from there.
So far, the process is working pretty well for me, though it’s only been 10 days. I’ve taken care of several lingering tasks, which is joy-inducing and have cleared out some mental clutter, leaving more room for creative thoughts.
Now, since I’ve taken care of several cards today, I’m going to go pull a card from the “reward” pile. I’m hoping I get a “read” card, since I know just the book from my TBR pile that I’m in the mood for.
So, how are you moving from planning to doing? Any successes you want to share?