Monday, August 2, 2010

Take the immediate next step

Here's a great tip I learned from David Allen's excellent book, Getting Things Done.

When you've been procrastinating about completing a task, just ask yourself, "What's the immediate next step needed to move this forward?" By breaking down a seemingly daunting task into its most basic next step, you'll find it a little more surmountable.

  • Clean the basement --> Bring in trash bins
  • Make plans to celebrate Father's Day with Dad --> Call Dad to ask him if there's something specific he'd like to do.
  • Prepare for Friday's meeting --> Review notes from last meeting
  • File auto insurance claim --> Gather information about the accident (involved parties, police report, witnesses' contact info) and have all of it in front of me.
Then, determine the immediate next steps after that:
  • Brought in trash bins --> Create spaces for "trash," "recycle," donate to charity" and put the trash bins in the "trash" space
  • Called Dad --> Find the phone number of the Italian restaurant he would like to go to
  • Reviewed notes from last meeting --> Write down any relevant points from the last meeting that will be important for me to revisit
  • Gathered information about the accident --> Locate the phone number of my insurance representative.
And it goes on until the task is completed. You can see how turning general tasks into little "bites"--even teeny ones such as "call dad"--will get you started moving in the right direction! Take things one immediate next step at a time and before you know it, your to-do list will be all checked off!

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