I’ll admit it: I can be scattered, unfocused, and indecisive. I prefer to think of myself as confetti at a party– colorful and diverse. My to-do lists are long, my intentions are good, but I could fill a large room with starts and stops (those projects that never saw completion). We all have them. What do yours look like? …Squeaky clean running shoes, a stack of uncracked books, a half-painted hallway, some concept that never left your thought bubble?
I admit I have a love/hate relationship with structure and when it comes to task lists, I’d prefer to have the freedom to check my boxes at will. But getting things done requires actual doing. I can’t deep breathe away life’s drudgery. So here’s how I plan to accomplish more in less time, de-clutter my days, and become more action-oriented.
Addressing the Problem…
As I mentioned, I’ve mastered list-making… because I’m full of ideas. A recipe for success should not have a zillion ingredients, however. It should have exact measurements and precise baking times. I realize I have failed to make certain things happen in life because my lists were too broad, ideas too abstract. I’ve not narrowed things down. I’m doing too much of everything and not enough of the RIGHT things.
Why Multitasking is a Myth
Although multitasking has become a mandate in our maxed-out world, we cannot really do more than one cognitively challenging task at once. At least not effectively. David Meyer, cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan says humans have distinct bandwidth challenges, making multitasking problematic. Our brains are limited in areas of data volume, processing channels, velocity, and working memory.
Forget about multitasking. Do what matters most, mindfully. Because we can do a lot without doing much at all, which is why this post is about accomplishing more, not doing more.
The Secrets to Accomplishing More in Less Time:
- Create a blueprint containing real-time tasks in priority order — not another vague list that does little more than ease your conscience. For example: rather than saying, “I’ll do yoga in the morning,” say, “I’ll do 5 rounds of Sun Salutations.” Then get out your yoga clothes and set your alarm to wake you.
- Break up large projects into actionable steps. Do the most difficult or undesirable parts first so you develop momentum and can at some point say, “Well the hard part is over. It’s smooth-sailing time.”
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step ~ Lao Tzu.
- Make an appointment with your priority, and don’t be late! Maybe your project is too large to do in one day. Or perhaps you have a long-term task or goal. Put it on the calendar and give it your full attention for a designated amount of time (an hour, a half-day, whatever seems reasonable). Remember that writers don’t craft novels in a day, but they do create outlines and set aside time to write on a regular basis.
- Recognize what you’re doing to support your goals. For example, if your day job sucks and you’re working towards some entrepreneurial effort, stop telling yourself you’re wasting your time punching the clock. Think of all the ways your work supports your goals. Chances are, you’re learning things about business and life every day (at the very least, you’re practicing perseverance), and you’re earning a paycheck to boot. Again, it’s all about momentum — which leads me to my final secret to accomplishing more in less time…
- Stay mentally motivated. Don’t get stuck worrying about the future, the pace at which you’re moving, or anything that’s gone wrong thus far.There’s so much to do but you WILL get it done if you work down your list with intention. Focus on your efforts, not the finish line, and remind yourself to Be Here Now.
Mantra: Life is a slow march rather than a rat race. I move toward my goals with mindful momentum. I will arrive when the time is right. My best effort is enough.