Thursday 26 April 2012

But it'll only take 5 minutes or, The importance of sticking to the point

I have, for several years, been quite a fan of the Getting Things Done method espoused by David Allen in his book, "How to Get Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity."

One of the key parts of the strategy is that if you have a task, that will take 5 minutes or less, do it straight away.

If you've been following my achievements posts, you may notice that the vast majority of tasks there take 5 minutes or less. It is incredibly easy for me to fill my day with very small tasks. Don't get me wrong; they are things that do need to get done. But - well, let's take an example. Today, I intended to have breakfast early. I went to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea, while stacking the dishwasher, tidying up the bench, filtering some water for my water bottle, reading my current book, put my laundry in the washing machine, filled my water bottle, packed my handbag into my backpack, went to my desk, sat down and ... realised I hadn't made breakfast. So many tiny little tasks, strung themselves together, and I was distracted away from my original intent.

The next time I went to the kitchen to make breakfast, I put breakfast on *first*, and *then* hung out my washing. The books arrived midway through the hanging-out. I finished hanging out the washing, served up breakfast, and opened the parcel to find my books damaged. having been recently reminded of how easily I get distracted into a chain of small tasks, I posted on twitter, but did not immediately take photographs or go to my desk to start the returns process. I ate my breakfast first - although I did get up to grab a notebook and pen to take notes on the book I started reading. After I finished breakfast, *then* I took photos, printed labels, updated my achievements post.

But those tasks did need to be done - and putting off minor tasks because, well, they're minor is always a temptation. Perhaps I should schedule a block of time of a morning - say, after breakfast and shower - to do all those little, niggling tasks that pile up.

Has anyone else encountered the endless-little-tasks bug, and if so, how do you manage to still get those tasks done and avoid using them as procrastination?


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