Resist the Urgent

Do you ever feel like you struggle to get things accomplished? You have this ever-growing list of things that you cannot seem to get on top of no matter how hard you try. You start out with good intentions to get these things accomplished but you end up pushing them to the bottom of your schedule every single day and they never get done. Maybe you don’t even start on them. 

Personally, I feel like a lot of times, because our priorities in life are all out of whack, that the rest of life just follows suit. It is like, we would love to get all of these things done but have no idea where to start. There is definitely a way to get that in order. There is a way to get those things accomplished without getting overwhelmed by them and I’m going to show you how today.

I figured it out about six months ago and it is incredibly simple.

I think the main problem with these tasks is found in the size of the task or the time that it would take to complete it. Many of these things, whether it’s a physical task like painting the house or an educational task such as learning a new language, just seem much bigger than the actually are. If there were a way to break these tasks down into smaller chunks, they would be less daunting.

However, there is a way to do that. Here’s what I do. I put together a word document titled, “Zach’s Life Fragments”. Under this, I simply started listing every single thing that I am responsible for completing over the course of one day. This list includes all of my job responsibilities, my blogging responsibilities and the things that I need to get done in my personal life. I am not going to go into the details of my list just yet but it currently has six major headings on it.

Then, under each heading, I begin listing the tasks for each one. Here’s what I mean by that. You probably have a pretty regular job. Each day you show up to the same place and do the same things. You probably also have a hobby or something that you do in your downtime. And, you probably also have a home routine or things that you take care of once you get home from work.

List all of those things on your Word document. Prioritize them if you want. It’s not necessary but it might help you to stay on task for each one. For me, I have my work fragments listed first, followed by school and then personal things. I work out of my home so that keeps me focused on the work tasks first since they have to get done.

You are probably thinking to yourself, “Zach. I already do this and I get buried in it as it is.” However, here is the magic of what I am unpacking here. If one part of your list has multiple tasks, don’t do them all in one day.

WHAT? That’s crazy Zach. I have to get them done or I will get into trouble.

Well, that can be a problem. If you find yourself in that position then you are living in the Urgent / Important (Quadrant One) portion of Covey’s Time Management Matrix and you need to get out. Not sure what I am talking about. You can read more about that here.

You need to move from there to Quadrant Two where you will find life much less stressful and much more productive. Instead of running around, trying to place catch-up constantly, you will actually have the time to get things done in your life that is truly important.

Okay, back to the list.

So, you have made your list and prioritized it. Now, what? Every single day, do one thing from each part of your list and no more.

What? I can’t do that. Some things will get overlooked.

Yes, that is true if you are in Quadrant One. You have put things off for so long that you cannot afford to only do part of them. However, if you have managed to move yourself over into Quadrant Two, you can afford this. After all of those things that you are responsible are taken care of, start on the projects but start small.

I will give you an example of what my day might look like using this method and how I might fit a task like painting my house into it. When school is in session, my day starts at 6:45 (maybe your’s starts even earlier) when I wake up the boys. The first hour and a half are spent getting them everything they need and then bussing them to school, so there is no flexibility there whatsoever. However, by 8:15, I can start with my tasks.

So, I bring up my Word Document and I start working through my list items.

House Parent Fragment

Do something off the monthly cottage checklist

Check the boy’s rooms

Read all the shift notes from the previous day

Find something off campus to do with the boys

Chaplain Fragment

Men’s Fellowship

Daily Devotion

Staff Devotion

Connect with area ministers and bring them into a partnership with PHFS

Discuss baptism with three residents

School Fragment

Work on whatever is due today

Check school email

Check grades and notices

Blog Fragment

Post new content (I’m doing this right now)

Life Improvement Fragment

Read from my daily Bible plan

Do a devotion with my kids

Work on plans for a date night with Elisa

30 minutes of cardio

Personal Task Fragment

Paint the House

I begin working through this list but I only do one thing for each bullet point. What I mean by this is that I do some of the work for each category but not all of the work for each category. An example would be this: Every month, I have a checklist of paperwork that I have to turn into the agency for my cottage. I could wait until the last day of the month to do the entire thing but instead, I start on day one of the month and do one item off that checklist each day until it is completed.

Then, when I got to the end of my list, I would start on the house. However, I obviously am not going to strip the entire house down and repaint it in one day. That would be absolutely crazy to even consider. So, I break that task down into a list of steps. Then, I start tackling one step every day until it is done.

In doing so, I feel less stressed about what I am doing. I stay ahead of the schedule and this allows me to avoid the urgency of Quadrant One. Now, this is my method. I may or may not have even made sense to you as we all have ideas in our heads that make sense to us but nobody else. However, I’m sure you get the point here. Break these big tasks down into smaller pieces and you will find them much easier to do.

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Ultimately, our task should always be to get everything done as efficiently as possible in the shortest amount of time so that we can simply kick back and relax. Find a way to make this happen and you will benefit tremendously.

Life is Strange. Live it Well.

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