We often get caught up in small tasks and busywork that lets us feel productive while the most important tasks get pushed back later and later, until we don’t have time to do them anymore because of all the smaller things that come up. This is a form of procrastination, or at the least bad priorities.
I call this “majoring in the minors” – spending lots of time doing good things, interesting things, but not the urgent things. This is a very easy trap to get into.
Think about how you manage your email and internet use. Smart phones now make it convenient and easy to get sucked into the making these activities the things that occupy lots of your time – majoring in the minors.
So, what are you telling me? Well – here it is…
- Each morning, preferably the evening before, pick at least 1 to 3 URGENT tasks that you must tackle.
- Before you do anything else for work –including checking email – do the URGENT tasks. Block out distractions, and just focus on starting.
- Try to limit the tasks to 20–30 minute each, or break them into smaller ones if they take longer than 20–30 minutes. Getting the task finished isn’t as important as doing 20-30 minutes of it — you can keep going when you get to that point, but you don’t need to continue. Just plan a time to continue. You will find that once a task is in motion, you will get back to it and get it done.
When you get that done, celebrate! Take a break, get coffee or some fancy coffee concoction, stretch, maybe give yourself 10 minutes of email or other busywork, and then get started on the 2nd URGENT task. Starting is the key. FOCUS.