How I checked 21 tasks off my To-Do list in a day

Step 1: Write down each task you want to accomplish. This doesn’t mean writing down each end goal you want. I wanted all the laundry done, but I didn’t write that down as a task. I wrote down, “Wash first load of laundry, dry first load of laundry, fold and put away first load of laundry, wash second load of laundry,” and so on. The lesson here is that if I want to accomplish a lot, and I have to a) break each goal down into actionable tasks instead of listing them as goals and expecting them to get done and b) write them down.

Step 2: Sort the list into a meaningful order. I chose to tackle the outside tasks first, one after another, instead of trying to go outside separately for each of them or somehow leaving them until the end of the day when it’s dark. More important than batching or sequencing, I think, though, is that by putting them in order up front, I could immediately transition one to the next without wasting mental energy deciding what to do next after each task was accomplished. It’s a lot easier to put everything in order up front than to rely on my lazy brain once the action gets going. Had I sorted through the list after each task was complete, I bet I would have stopped sooner – the mental energy of deciding would have worn my out before I physically wore out.

Step 3: Do each task one after another without breaks. The idea behind all these steps is to separate thinking from doing. If I start thinking while I’m doing, more often than not, my brain comes up with some excuse not to keep going. I think of another task to accomplish, something else more important, or I get bogged down trying to decide what to do next or even to continue at all. Once I’m in the doing stage – this step 3 here – it’s head down, just doing. I’ve already taken care of all the thinking (and put it in writing so I don’t have to rethink it). There’s a reason Nike says, “Just do it.”

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