Raise your hand if you’re in a busy stage of life right now? I’m guessing that if we were all together in one room, most of us would have our hands raised. 🙂 Whether you’re busy with work, community, family, home, or other important responsibilities, you aren’t alone!
It can sometimes feel like there’s just no time at all to complete big projects, achieve goals, or even have some quiet time to sit, think, and work. However, there are five incredible practices that changed all of that for us. When my mom (April) was a young mother, she felt like she was going in circles every day and couldn’t seem to check off all the “to-do’s” on her lists.
As she started implementing these five practices (detailed below), she found that projects were getting completed at an incredible rate. As she broke her projects down into 10-20 minute microbursts, she was able to work them into her demanding schedule and make incredible progress. Without further ado, here are the five ways to make time for projects!
(The YouTube video that we pulled the audio from is linked in the “related links” section below.)
(1) Complete a Weekly Review
A weekly review can be incredibly simple, but the goal is to set ourselves up for success during the upcoming week. When we can make sure all of our appointments are added to our calendar, set realistic expectations for ourselves, identify projects that we need to (or want to) work on, and so on, we will have a clear picture of what is ahead of us.
April notes in this audio that when she was first implementing this practice in her life, she noticed a HUGE difference when she skipped the Weekly Review. She would miss appointments, feel flustered when trying to decide what to work on, and ultimately end up spinning her wheels unnecessarily.
(2) Plan Daily
Whether you plan your day the night before or the morning of, you are setting yourself up for success and creating blocks of time in which you will complete your next actions.
Take a few moments each day to look at your calendar and identify where you need to be (appointment or event-wise), and then take a look at those open blocks of time. What could you do to move current projects forward during those windows? For example, if you are waiting for a bus for 20 minutes, that could be a great time to look at your Next Actions List and send texts or make phone calls that relate to your project.
Or if you know you’re already going to be running errands in one part of town, take a look at your Next Actions List to see if you need to pick up an item at the store that is related to one of your projects. It’s that simple, and this little check-in with yourself and upcoming schedule gives so much structure to the day. 🙂
(3) Create a Simple Current Projects List
It’s not possible to be working on 50 projects at once–even if we think we’re superhuman and definitely capable of doing so. I’m also in a busy stage of life right now. We have a six-month-old and he takes up a lot of our time and energy. But that’s okay!
I have a Current Projects List with only 3 or 4 projects right now (we recommend no more than 8 total spanning the categories of: Me, Family, and Beyond), and the rest of my projects go on my Next-in-Line or Someday Lists.
Whenever a new project pops into my mind or if my husband suggests something that we could work on together, I don’t stress about it. I know I don’t have the time/energy right now to tackle another project, but I know that it is SAFE on my future projects list. And when I complete one of my current projects, I know exactly where to look for the next one!
(4) Create a Next Actions List
After determining all of your current projects for the month, now it’s time to break these down into next actions. Let’s say you want to redo your backyard. That’s a HUGE project, but we can start chipping away at it with next actions.
Our first next action might be to sit down and sketch out our dream backyard or our overall vision. This would go under our “home” category on the Next Actions List. Then the next step might be to research options for a landscaper. That would go under the “computer” category of the Next Actions List.
As we break down projects into next actions, we are giving ourselves simple tasks that can be completed in small windows of time that appear in our busy days. This has been life changing for me!
(5) Work with Family/Others When Possible
In this audio, April shares that she found ways to work with her children/family to complete next actions. She would involve the kids when she was completing next actions to declutter and organize the pantry. If she had to make a phone call, she would let the kids press the buttons. If everyone was working on homework around the table, she would get her computer out and do a next action that was computer-based.
As a new mom myself, I’m learning how to work this principle into my life–it has taken some practice, but I think I’m getting the hang of it! When my son is awake and wants to interact with me and my husband, we find things we can do together (or while holding him 🙂 that also check off the items on our Next Actions List.
Okay, and now for the second part of our podcast! The 2-minute rule! (One of my favorite things I’ve learned from the STEP program and principles.)
Essentially, if you have a 2-minute or less task that you are about to put on a to-do list, go ahead and do it! It will likely take you longer to write it down than it will to do the task. For example, if you need to run an item out to the garage and it won’t take that long to do so, go ahead and do it!
But what if we have 200 2-minute or less tasks in our minds or on our lists? We can’t possibly do those right then because we would spend ALL day on them, right? We hear this question a lot! One idea we have for you is to group these tasks into projects. Check out this image below. Here are all of our 2-minute tasks:
Now what if we break these up into categories (shown below)?
We can put all of the “computer” tasks on our current projects list as an official project, and our subsequent next actions will be to work on the tasks under the “computer” umbrella. We can then chip away at the dozens of tasks we might have had previously cluttering our to-do lists.
I love this idea and I am definitely going to implement it as we prepare for a big move this summer. When packing and unpacking, there are always a million tasks that pop up. “I need to change that light bulb.” “I need to order another pair of ___ since this one doesn’t fit any more.” “I should probably do _____ before we have our landlord come over for a final check before we move out.”
All of these tasks are tiny, but they will certainly add up as we are trying to streamline things and prep for a move. I love knowing that I don’t need to be overwhelmed by any of these tasks that pop up on my list in the coming weeks and months.
Hope these ideas were helpful to you! Feel free to share your thoughts or ideas on how you might implement these principles in the comments below. 🙂
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