How to Get Things Done - Visualizing Your Tasks
So there I was, sitting at my desk at work, staring at my notebook, ready to tackle the literal 20 things I had to complete that week. Each task had it's own level of importance, each task had it's own deadline... and here I was, ready to face the day... and yet I was stuck. Where on earth do I begin. How do I figure out which things to do today, when everything is so important? This thought process lead to two realizations.
"If everything is important, then nothing is important."
What the. How can that be true? My boss is asking for this to be done TODAY, and it really needs to be done. I need to push everything else aside in order to do this thing. I need to sit down right now and work on it exclusively and do it. So clearly, this task is too important. News flash, no it's not. When I had my 1st child, my son, I completely did not think about work. When I got back to work, I realized that everything that was an issue or a project when I left, was still a priority. Even if I had made sure it was always at the top of my list, the world still survived without me. It helped me keep things into perspective when I reframed work. It's just work. Don't get me wrong. I love my work, and I would consider myself having a strong work ethic, but it is not everything, and it is not worth everything.
Also. It's incredibly unrealistic to think that shutting yourself off from every other task and focusing on this one task is going to get it done faster. Personally, my brain gets very fatigued after working on the same thing... I end up actually working slowly, getting writers block, or not seeing clear errors. I learned that by breaking up my day by ensuring I also got to complete mundane and small tasks, that I came back to the big project with slightly refreshed eyes and actually was more efficient!
"Plan, plan plan."
I get it, some people aren't planners. But taking the time to figure out how your week is going to look and to figure out which things should be done each day allows your brain to let go of the things that will be tackled another day, and to budget your mental and physical capacity for each day. Whether you do this mentally, or if you do it physically on paper, by arranging the pieces of the puzzle over the week, you're more likely to be able to complete those tasks!
How I do it? As a busy mom, I need to plan out tasks over the week. I often only have enough time in a day to get one or two major tasks done, so I use a weekly planner (picture below shown with no weekends) to indicate which tasks I plan to do on which days.
The tasks belong on the left, and then when I plan to do that task on a day, I draw in a check box. If it gets done, I check it off. If I do it another day, I check off the box on that day and draw an arrow from my planned day to the completed day. Similarly if I complete a task early. If it doesn't get done, then I draw an arrow from the planned day all the way to the last box, which reminds me to carry it over to the following week!
However you visualize it, I encourage anyone who feels like they have so much to do and yet never seem to get any of it done to plan it out and tackle life as small steps, microscopic achievements. Over time, each step forward adds to the end-goal of accomplishing more and improving mental health.
If you want your own copy of my Get It Done Weekly planner, you can get it here, and have a digital download forever! Print it out in beautiful color, or use it as a template in your favourite note-taking app! (I use GoodNotes5.)