Procrastinating? Take Junk Tasks Off Your Task List

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We’ve discussed that procrastination can save time, because there are some tasks you can safely put off forever:

Take a look at your task list. If you’ve been putting off a task, or a project, for more than five days in a row, cancel it, or put it on your “some day” list. Tasks which you think you should do, but don’t, drain your energy.

Tasks multiply like rabbits. Before you know it, you’ve got ten tasks scheduled for the day. You know that there’s no chance you’ll get them all done, because you have meetings, and you need to prepare for upcoming commitments.

How do you prune your task list of junk tasks?

Identify your “junk” tasks

Start by identifying your junk tasks.

A junk task is a task which you should get done. However, if it doesn’t get done today, or ever, you won’t lose your job or your business, nor will it affect the goals toward which you’re working.

For example, this morning I had 13 tasks to get done today. There’s zero chance I’ll get them all done, and having that many tasks staring me in the face all day is more than I can stand. I need to work on the  tasks which relate to imminent deadlines, and tasks which affect my goals.

I have a “good health” goal, so I need to go for my walk, and do the exercises which keep my RSI under control. Taking care of yourself is all-important; you can’t achieve anything if you don’t.

Five of my tasks can be moved, or deleted entirely. This leaves eight tasks, a much more manageable list.

Task-triage: perform it every day

If you’re using Getting It  Done or another task management system, you can end up with hundreds of tasks in your system. Since each new day brings additional tasks, how will you ever get out from under the weight of everything you need to do?

Identifying your junk tasks, and performing task-triage (deleting the junk) at the end or the start of each day helps.

Tip: find a task management app which encourages you to review your tasks. I’m currently using 2Do, because I can easily see how many tasks are in the entire system, and how many tasks I have coming up each day. 
, and on Twitter: @angee

Get More Done: Use Your Brain’s Brilliant Operating System

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Want to get more done? Here’s a simple method which works. Use your brain’s brilliant operating system. You’re using that operating system constantly, but unfortunately, we use it to block ourselves, rather than using it to get more stuff done.

Your imagination is your brain’s operating system. You use it by visualizing.

Visualization is a habit:

Visualize

I used to find it hard to fall asleep until I began visualizing how I wanted the next day to go. Instead of my mind wandering from topic to topic, focusing on what “might” go wrong, I started focusing on what “would” go right.

It’s impossible NOT to visualize. It’s the way your brain works. If you imagine you’ll get more done, you will.

See yourself completing your next task

Let’s say you need to create a presentation. You’ve been putting it off. But you’ll be meeting with a client later today, and you have an hour to get it done. Procrastination’s no longer an option.

Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine you’ve completed the presentation. You’re in the meeting. You’re confident as you go through the material for the client. Not only are you confident, but the client’s smiling, totally engaged. Now the presentation’s over. The client signs on the bottom line.

Open your eyes. You’re eager to get started on the presentation. You’re amazed at how quickly everything comes together. The meeting goes almost exactly as you envisioned that it would.

We’re all visualizing every day, whether we realize it or not

When you think, you’re visualizing. If someone says to you: “don’t think about it…” You imagine it, whatever it is. You can’t help it. That’s the way we’re made.

Unfortunately, when we visualize the stuff we need to get done, we usually stab ourselves in the back. You visualize yourself NOT completing the presentation. Or mangling it. You see the client unimpressed. Not only don’t you get the deal, you see your boss telling you that they’re letting you go… You’re jobless. Your partner hates you…

STOP IT.

A lot of nonsense is talked about “visualization”. It’s developed a “woo woo” reputation. That’s silly. There’s nothing magical about it, it’s what we do naturally.

Use your brain’s operating system the way it’s meant to be used. See yourself getting things done – brilliantly.

We don’t all visualize/ imagine in the same way

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Imagine a big beautiful bunch of grapes. They’re seedless grapes, just picked and are still warm from the sun on the vines. They’re dark purple; the bunch is big and heavy. You pluck a grape from the bunch, and put it in your mouth.
How did you visualize? I saw the grapes. They were on a large white platter, next to several slices of cheese.

You may visualize in a different way; you may not form clear mental images. Perhaps you get a feeling; a sense of the grapes. That’s fine — you can imagine the grapes in any way which works for you. We all visualize; whichever way you usually do it is fine.

What’s your next task? Imagine yourself getting it done

Check your task list. What’s the next task? Close your eyes for a moment, and yourself doing it, then see it done.

Use your imagination. It’s your brain’s operating system.

Einstein on imagination

Einstein said:

Imagination is power

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: koalazymonkey via photopin cc

photo credit: Vainsang via photopin cc

Social Media: How Much Time Should You Spend?

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Social media is essential. Or not. It very much depends on your business.

Let’s say you own and operate a small business. Your customers are on Twitter. You make sales when you post specials. This means that Twitter is worthwhile for you.

Once you’ve decided that social media is a useful marketing adjunct, how much time do you spend on it?

To be honest, I’ve no idea. Everyone’s different. Your business is unlike that of anyone else, and so is your temperament.

The time you have available varies too. I know that on some days I manage to do more on social media than I do on other days. When I’m on deadline, I’m totally focused on that.

Steve Masters, SEO & Social Media Campaign Delivery Manager suggests you dedicate time:

“… It takes a couple of minutes to check Twitter and post a couple of comments, and the same for Google+ or Facebook. Devoting some dedicated time each day to manage your accounts is the best approach but you can’t just do that once a day. The social world operates continuously.”

Decide: where will you post, and what you’ll post

You can’t be everywhere. In this article, I suggested that you build your social media ecosystem:

Here’s a tip. Social media is inexpensive advertising. It’s not free, because it takes time. However, if you set up a workflow, in which you repurpose the same content onto several sites, you can set up your own little social media marketing ecosystem:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Springpad
  • Google+
  • Tumblr

So do that first. Decide where you’ll create a presence.

Next, create some social media goals.

Then, decide how much time you’ll need to accomplish those goals, and see where you can carve out the time.

Summing up — create some goals. Decide how much time you can spend each day on social media so you’ll achieve your goals.

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Not Another To Do List App: I Need Another Brain, or Lotus Agenda

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Over the years, I’ve learned something about myself and productivity. I much prefer playing with my processes to actually getting things done.

Currently, my task management is divided between Things, and Wunderlist.

I love Things. I can’t give it up. I have hundreds of tasks in Things, many of which I will never do. However, it’s also packed with recurring tasks, and moving them to another app would be total insanity. It would take too long, and chances are I’d miss something… So, Things, and Wunderlist.

However, since I’m such a GTD slut, I like the look of Any.DO. This article, Any.DO Moment Pushes You to Actually Tackle Your To-Do List, points out:

“‘One of the things we learned is that in order for people to be really productive, they need to change task management into a habit,’ Omer Perchik, founder and CEO of Any.DO, told Mashable.”

I’ve already got the task management habit. That’s not the problem.

I’ve got another habit too — I tend to do what I want to do, rather than what I should do. Or maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I get my teaching and client work done, and I work on my books. However, managing everything I need to do is a huge pain. What I really want is an app which will pop up tasks automatically, so I don’t have to think about it too much. Left-brained thinking disrupts creativity.

Years ago, when I was still using Windows (shudder, pre-2005), there was a Windows app which was amazing. It worked out gaps in your work day. It would shuffle your tasks around, so that if you had 12 tasks to do in a day, it would magically organize them so that your day was planned out for you. It even gave you free time. If you got over-enthusiastic, and planned too much, it would let you know that you were aiming for the impossible.

I wish I could remember its name, because I WANT AN APP LIKE THAT NOW.

Or, going back decades to the good old days of DOS, I want someone to bring back Lotus Agenda. Why, in the 20 years since Lotus Agenda was released, has no one come up with something better? Lotus Agenda was a dream. Yes, it had a learning curve and a huge manual, but once you knew how to get information into it, Agenda planned out your day. It was like having another brain. A smarter, kinder, more logical version of yourself.

(Big sigh.)

If you’re a developer, consider developing something like the Windows application which shuffled your tasks, and make the best use of the time you had each day. It was brilliant, and I’ve never seen anything else like it. From memory, it called itself a “time manager” rather than a PIM, and was shareware, available from the late 1990s to when I stopped using Windows, in 2005.