It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks and to-do’s in the coming month. I’ve been experimenting with limiting my commitments to 30 hours in the coming 30 days. Not 30 projects, not 30 quick to-do’s but 30 one-hour tasks. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Realize there’s always time
If you really had to, you could squeeze in several hours this month. You’d wriggle out of something else that wasn’t as important to get done what you absolutely had to get done. What if you could wriggle into 30 productive hours in the next 30 days? You’ll do your normal job and work and whatever but there’s probably 30 hours of work that could have a massive impact on your life and business in the next 30 days.
Step 2: List possible 1-hour tasks
Grab a sheet of scrap paper and take five minutes to scribble down the most important 1-hour tasks in the coming thirty days. We’ll prune it down to 30 in just a bit.
Step 3: Split up longer tasks
Don’t kid yourself. Several of your tasks will probably take more than one hour. In that case split it up. Example: Make the Widget 1, Make the Widget 2.
Step 4: Choose only 30
Choose thirty and only thirty tasks. If you are skeptical about 30, go for 15 instead. Do not choose more than 30. You aren’t impressing anyone. When in doubt, reduce the commitment. If you are trying to choose between two tasks, do the one that will have the biggest impact on your life or business.
Step 5: Make it harder to fail
There’s always friction in getting stuff done. Make it harder to screw up. For any calls you have to make, put the phone number next to it so you can’t weasel out of it. Example: Call John Smith 773 555 4321
For tasks that require someone else, schedule them now. Don’t email them asking them when is a good time, pick up the phone and call them and schedule time. Don’t let phone tag become and end unto itself.
Step 6: Print and post your master list
If you keep it on your computer you’ll be tempted to move tasks around or negotiate with yourself. Consider your list frozen. If you don’t like what you chose for the month, cross something off as deferred and worry about it next month. The point is you are limiting your perspective for 30 days so you can do what really needs to get done. If your bastard co-workers will make fun of you, hide your list in a file folder.
Step 7: Get started. Reboot as needed.
Start early if you want. If you get overwhelmed or feel thrown under the bus, take a day away from the list and re-commit to it.
Step 8: 30 Days Later
Once your thirty day execution period is up, return to the list and evaluate your progress.
Bonus Rude Advice
Ask yourself which tasks you are most likely to procrastinate on or pretend don’t exist or hide from using email or voicemail. Do those first. You’ll squirm and twist but it’ll feel good to get the ‘hard’ stuff out of the way. Also: Do this exercise with a buddy and check-in weekly to ensure you’re getting things done.
Click here to download the complete PDF guide and worksheet.