(3 Minute Read or Listen Below)
When was the last time you put something off because you didn't want to face it?
For me, pick any random Sunday in the past, oh I don't know, five years. Sunday is the day I designated for my weekly review. The purpose of my weekly review is to look back on what happened in the prior week, update my task list, and look ahead to plan the upcoming week proactively. I can't even remember the last time I did a full weekly review.
I do more of a pseudo weekly review, picking and choosing the pieces I want to look at and ignoring the rest. It's my own personal "Ostrich Method." I bury my head in the sand and only selectively review my task list. I'm operating under the delusion that the items I choose not to acknowledge don't exist.
But I'm giving the ostrich a bad rap. Contrary to common belief, the ostrich does not bury its heads in the sand, according to the San Diego Zoo. So I shouldn't associate the poor ostrich with my procrastination habit.
David Allen says, "Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them®," and I agree. Even before I knew who David Allen was, I realized I couldn't remember everything. That's why my Franklin Covey paper planner was surgically attached to my hand for over a decade.
I've since switched to an online task manager. My task manager site and its companion app are straightforward to use. Because it's so convenient, all my tasks are in it, which is fantastic. Because I have so much in it, I avoid looking at it. Go figure!
However, my brain still knows it's all there, lurking. It causes me stress, wondering if I'm focusing on the right things. And it's impossible to make deliberate choices if I don't know my full range of options.
I'm not alone in my task overwhelm. Many of us have a list of things-to-do a mile long, and the list keeps growing. But ignoring the list isn't the answer. We must step back and look at the big picture.
My pattern is clear. When I do my weekly review, I spend too much time catching up by doing the tasks, not reviewing the tasks. Because of this, my weekly review takes a really long time. It causes me to dread the process, and I don't finish. That's how I devised the nifty shortcut of only acknowledging select items and ignoring the rest.
The reality is, all tasks do not carry equal weight. If we don't make time to consistently and thoughtfully review our list, we only think about how overwhelmingly long the list is. Instead, we should focus on determining its essential items and work those into our schedule for completion.
My husband has kindly volunteered to hold me accountable. He also has some tasks he needs to do more consistently. So, we've selected a time block when both of us can do our activities simultaneously, and hold each other accountable to complete them.
I know the more consistently I do a full weekly review, the less time it will require. When my weekly review takes less time, I will, by default, create a window of time for the actual "doing" of some tasks. And by more frequently looking at the big picture, I can be more intentional and confident about how I'm spending my time.
Are you task overwhelmed? What plan will you create to conquer it and hold yourself accountable?
Perhaps the Productive Environment Process™ can help you.
Give your overwhelm the attention it deserves. Speaking from personal experience, I promise you will feel infinitely better for it.
"Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them," is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company.
The Productive Environment Process is the property of Barbara Hemphill.
I help established small business owners gain control of their time so they can increase productivity without sacrificing what matters most.