You’ve got some goals floating in your head, but are you having trouble keeping them there?
I’m the same way. I have an idea – it’s brilliant! I’m going to change the world! Then the phone rings, my baby is crying and I realize I almost forgot to pay my health insurance bill. And just like that, the idea is stored away in the vault.
According to the author of Getting Things Done, David Allen, “Your mind is for having idea, not holding them.”
What good is having an idea if you do nothing with it? It’s fun to dream, but making dreams a reality is exciting and makes us feel accomplished.
The Getting Things Done approach has some similarities to the 5×5 plan, but it is much more particular. The idea is that we often put things on our To Do list that look something like this:
1. Change the hallway lightbulb
2. Design a brochure
3. Make a million dollars
Ok, 3 very different examples here, but each one has a fault. They’re too generalized and you might often find that, despite having this item on your list for weeks, it never gets done.
Because changing the light bulb isn’t just changing a lightbulb. There are actually steps involved that need to happen before you can change that bulb.
1. Get a new lightbulb
2. Get a ladder
3. Bring the ladder to the hallway
4. Change the lightbulb
5. Put the ladder away
6. Dispose of the old lightbulb
In your mind, it might actually be Step 2 that’s bringing you down. You keep forgetting to bring the ladder in from the garage. But, if you can erase all of the following steps from your brain and only focus on the one right in front of you, the one coming up next, it can make the process feel less overwhelming. Also, if you feel short on time or distracted, you could just check one thing off and wait for the next step until later. For instance, you’ve got a few minutes to spare, so run out and grab that ladder now and put it in the hallway to wait until later this afternoon when you have time to actually climb up there and change the bulb.
Same goes for all of your goals, every bit needs to be broken down. And examining each step can really help assess what the issue is that might be leading to procrastination. What if it’s Step 6 that’s bugging you, and you haven’t even gotten to Step 1?
I find that happens quite often. Personally, I hate billing/invoicing and asking people for money in general. It often stops me way before I even get to the point. I don’t even promote my services because I anticipate that step of getting paid. It might sound odd, but it took some introspection to realize, that I just am not a fan of sending out bills.
Still, I have to do my work for a variety of reason, including the invoicing part, but breaking it all down can at least change my focus to things I enjoy while leaving my worry for that step when that step actually matters instead of having it loom over the entire process!
Working with other creatives, I see this all the time. If something isn’t getting done, I always ask the question – what are you dreading about this process? Maybe it’s something I can help with or maybe it’s something that we can just get rid of! Or maybe we just need to get step 1 through 25 done and then we can worry about Step 26 together when it approaches.
What is stopping up your process? Take a look at your to do list and try breaking it up the Getting Things Done way.
Looking for a high tech way to track your to do list? Check out Asana! It enables you to divide tasks into projects, categories. Plus you can create a team, assign tasks and track it all in an easy to use app.