Getting organised: making things happen, one step at a time

This article is for all us natural procrastinators and putter-offers-until tomorrow – how do you get things done?

Endless to do list..

You know the feeling – you look at your endless to do list and marvel at how some items never seem to progress or how some items seem so huge that you just cannot face even beginning to think about them (such as ‘convert garage to family room’ or  ‘sort out pension plan’).

 Small steps make things happen

I learnt some years ago that I stood a much better chance of ticking off items on my to-do list if I broke them down into small steps and just did those specific steps for each task.  At the time, I was so sleep-deprived and time poor that I even had to tackle phone calls in this way.  So, ‘arrange boiler servicing’ was broken down into (a) find telephone number and then (b) make the call.  I just could not manage to do (a) and (b) at the same time!  Now that my children are older, I don’t need to do this but you get the idea.

Small steps make things happen!

Take the first step

Go through your to do list and look at which items are just not getting done.  Then take one of them and work out what is the first step you need to take to get it done.  If it the step is a quick one such as a phone call or email, then do it there and then.   If it needs a longer time such as internet research, then decide when you will have time to do it and write it down on your diary or calendar to make sure you don’t forget.

Once you have completed that first step, then decide on the next one and so on.  I find that this method stops me feeling so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I seem to have to do on a weekly basis!  It also helps when I am putting off doing something that really ought to be done today rather than tomorrow or even the next day!

Bolognese got made!

On Sunday, for example, I knew that I really had to cook a batch of Bolognese sauce in the afternoon.  I was really tempted to leave it to Monday even though I knew that I had to bake cakes for a fundraising coffee morning and wouldn’t have the time.  So I took myself in hand and told myself that I only needed to chop 2 onions and that would at least mean I was slightly ahead on Monday; then I moved on to the carrots and by the time I was heating the oil in the saucepan, I was well underway and now have 3 lots of Bolognese sauce in the freezer.

Big and small projects move forward in next steps

I also use this technique at work, whether managing large projects or just trying to get a smaller task done.  It really does work.

Any good ideas for getting through your to-do list?

We would love to hear how you manage to get through your to-do list – please do use our contact form or the comments feature to send in any ideas!

Thanks to Cornell University Library for the use of the staircase photo. [Flickr link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/cornelluniversitylibrary/3678127137/]

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2 Responses to Getting organised: making things happen, one step at a time

  1. Great article ladies!
    It’s so true that the To Do list can seem never-ending. Breaking tasks down into smaller chunks is definitely key. Some of my (Small Business) Clients find that just by getting things out of their head or off sticky notes and into 1 written list helps them no end. They can relax without having everything going around in their heads all day long! It also gets them to prioritise on key tasks such as those that will move their business forward, bring in much needed revenue or are time-bound essentials.
    I personally also like to reflect on what I HAVE achieved in a day – call it a ‘Done’ list.
    Look forward to reading more from you both!
    Amanda (member of APDOuk – Assoc of Professional Declutterers & Organisers)

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the tip for getting the to-do list together – takes time but so worth it to declutter your mind.
      Love the ‘Done’ list idea! Sally & Jane

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