Last week in my newsletter, I stated:
“Let me recommend – focus on the most used areas of your home. For a Thanksgiving event, those areas would be:
- the entryway / coat closet;
- dining room;
- family rooms; and
- guest bathrooms.
“Now is NOT the time to pull out everything from the attic, garage, or basement storage room. Restore order and touch up those public spaces this week, and leave the other projects until after Thanksgiving!”
Apparently, this statement resonated with a number of my readers, thanks for your comments. One readers specifically asked if I had grown up in her home, as her dad would take the day off before Thanksgiving every year to “help”, and would instead start a huge and messy project , driving her mother crazy.
We all want to help, we all want to act. But we all need Priorities, Focus, Big-Picture planning and we don’t always have it!
My to-do list is long. I may never complete it, since I add more tasks all the time. But since I always have tasks and to-dos to complete, I have to decide “RIGHT NOW, What’s The Right Thing To Do?”
I think this happens to us all, to some extent. We have so many tasks and to-dos and ideas that we want to act upon, we could ACT all day but still not get to our important work.
So here’s how to figure out What’s The Right Thing to Do Right Now.
Write Things Down! Write down, either on paper or digitally, ideas and tasks and to-dos. Don’t edit them, just write them down. Your busy brain will thank you.
Not All Actions Are Created Equal. It’s often difficult to know what the next step is. Sometimes we feel like we should be doing SOMETHING, but we don’t want to think through the process, so we just dive into a project or task and end up making a bigger mess. THINK first, and Act Well.
Often, it’s the simplest thing. We tend to over-think things. Sometimes the best thing to do is to shower, put some clothes on, get a drink of water, make a phone call, make dinner, leave the house, send the email.
Pick Today’s List. Look at the to-do list, and choose. Last week, a client asked if we could come up with a plan for our 3 hours together and talk through the planning process. So, on her dry erase board, we:
- wrote down all the tasks that were on her mind to complete that day;
- asked how long each task typically takes, and how long to allot for it (finish tagging files – 20 minutes; file receipts – 30 minutes; hang art in home office – 45 minutes, etc.);
- determined if any of them were attached to a specific time (like a 3 o’clock conference call, or starting the crock pot to warm dinner 2 hours before dinner time);
- and finally, ordered the list by attaching a number to each item (#1, #2, #3, etc., and moved a few things to the next day’s list).
- This was an interesting exercise. We ended up adding other tasks in, and we ran over a few time estimates, but we certainly learned a lot about the process and the client.
Group Similar Tasks. A class participant explained how her home seemed to be full of distractions and asked me how to keep focus. We talked about a couple of strategies, and she chose “set aside a half an hour for house tasks, then a half an hour for paying bills, a half an hour for cooking and cleaning up the kitchen” etc., instead of hopping from task to task without ever feeling like she had completed a project.
What tasks on your list only need elapsed time? Start the laundry, start the crock pot, send out the emails and ask for responses by a certain day this week. And then ignore the results until the next time you need to check in.
Ask. Communicate with the folks around you, whether at home or at work. You may feel some tasks and your part of the overall plan are high priority, but some one else may see other tasks and other parts as higher priority. You both may be correct, but communication will help everyone get the right things done.
Make an “After Thanksgiving” or “January” list now. Looking at all the tasks and to-dos on the Master list, determine which ones can wait. Today, I was reminded that I need to make an annual doctor appointment for February or March, but I waiting until January to make that call. I wrote it down, so I won’t forget, and will worry about it later.
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