Do you ever feel like you have zero time to get anything done? Today we have a solution.
Ask yourself one question. And then create this one simple list.
(We’ve prepared this to be a super-short podcast so that you can fit it into your day….)
All right, this is the KEY question to ask yourself:
How many times do I open my phone each day—to scroll through social media or check my email—because a small pocket of time opened up, and I didn’t feel like I had enough time to “do” anything else?
The answer probably spans from 2-3 to “I don’t even want to think about it….”
So the fact of the matter is that we DO have time. It’s just that it doesn’t come in long, luxurious groupings of hours and hours at a time. It comes in pockets. Little ones. Big ones. Pockets of time when we have tons of energy, pockets of time when we can barely stay awake.
Context-Based Next Actions List
To help you actually get things done during your pockets of time, we encourage you to create your Next Actions List. It can be paper or digital and look like this:
Then, as you are planning the Next Actions for projects you’re working on that week—or as single tasks come to your mind, you can add them to the appropriate context, and you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish.
We interviewed our Steps to Everyday Productivity community recently and asked for examples of what they were able to do in a 10-minute microburst. Here’s what they said:
This messy kitchen was created by preparation for a cake class taught the night before & a custom cake created for a neighbor. LOTS of little pieces in that sink! I timed myself from start to finish. It only took 3 – 10 minute microbursts. I felt so much more relaxed after I was done.
I decluttered my closet in 4 10 minute microbursts. I put all my laundry away in 1 microburst. I love that I can walk all the way in my closet again! I even took the donations to Salvation Army immediately!
Just tried clear counters by throwing away “trash” pizza boxes etc that have accumulated, put away dishes that had been done for awhile but not put away and took dirty dishes that need done and placed in dishwasher. Was nice to see my countertops again lol. I have to work tonight and this was weighing so heavy on me I just told myself whatever I can get done was all the goal I had and I’d be happy and I was!
I loved my micro bursts today. I started clearing my desk and worked on my makeup vanity area that was super scary. It feels so good to see some progress.
I’ve been keeping post it’s on my desk for to dos at work. I did half of them and see the others as reminders in a new software so there’s proof I did it!
My daughter and I went through her closet and filled a garbage bag full of clothes that were too small for her! This task would normally take us much longer – or we’d put it off or make excuses! I ❤ microbursts! Life changing!
I picked up my 6 month old’s toys, in one burst. In a second burst pulled out the bags from out recycle bins, transferred them to my car to transport after swim class tomorrow, and replaced each bin with a new bag.
I got a few ‘brainstorming’ sessions in- I have 3 areas that I needed to get some clarity on, and I decided to spend just a few minutes (it wasn’t ‘ideal’ but I am glad I didn’t wait) to sketch out thoughts. I didn’t go for perfection (lined paper and pencil and tucked in planner) but SOO glad to have these thoughts ready to move forward. One of the topics I got a little stuck so I have this in my planner ready for my next microburst to think about it tomorrow. 🙂 GREAT feeling to have this done, even though it wasn’t physical space.
I had 2 bathrooms to clean the other day. My kids’ bathroom was a disaster and I didn’t want to clean it AT ALL. So i decided to start with my bathroom counter to get momentum. It totally worked! Now both bathrooms are clean and i went on to wash walls and windows in my kitchen!
I set a 25 minute timer and worked on organizing all my lab results. It goes back to 2014 and I want to get them into a spreadsheet so I have something to give my doctor and that is easy to read. It is such a boring task but once I have it done all I have to do is input them as they come in. Which isn’t very often really. I just want to get this done! In the 25 minutes I had made the spreadsheet template. Then I started to input one of the labs. : ) More tomorrow.
I’m always amazed that the apparently endless dirty dish like takes approximately 10 minutes every time. And if not 10, I usually realize it’s only 2 more to finish, so I go for it!
I did a microburst to go through 2 more boxes in my den. 2 more to go and some labels and my command center is complete!
I spent 20 minutes putting highlights in a kindle book before it gets returned to the library- so I can still look through the highlights later. I got 1/3 the way through.
After. 9 minutes and 7 seconds!
Module 1 (for upstairs) complete!
I am pleased to say that my command center desk of hope has remained clear all week when I am not working at it. And today I cleared the clutter out of the drawer and shelf space in the desk so I can set up my supplies.
When my children were younger from pre-school to 8th grade I saved every paper and work book they had. Every. One. My attic was a disaster. Box upon box of papers. I also saved a lot of their toys. I have come a long way with the attic (I wish I took before pics), but am painstakingly going through every box of their papers year by year. I’m up to oldest child, grade 3. I look through those papers in 15 minute increments. I’m getting there! (They are 25 and 22 – it’s been a mess for a while!)
I got called out of town for work so as I was packing I grabbed everything out of my Read and Review stack and packed it. I read some last night and tossed and will do the same tonight.
I got to the paper inbox and found unpaid bills. Paid them right away! Dealt with 2/3rds of what was in there. Have to make time for it again this week.
I just had to share a major win for me. I am the Type A person that in the past, if I didn’t have time to clean the entire kitchen top to bottom that I just got stuck and wouldn’t be able to just start somewhere.
This morning I decided to use the micro-burst concept for cleaning. I decided to do what I could in just 30 minutes! I emptied the trash, unloaded the dishwasher, filled it back up again, and put things away (and other things in the box of things that goes to another room.) I wiped the counters and stove and swept the floor.
I didn’t have time to wash the hand-wash dishes, or dust the blind, wash the window, and the list goes on. But for the first time ever, I am ok with that! I would not be embarrassed for anyone to come into my kitchen right now!
Sorry for the long documentary. I just had to get it all out. I am now going to apply this concept to other rooms in the house. And in a few hours, my house will be clean! It was almost hard for me to say “clean” there because it will not be perfect! I think at the end of the day that I will feel good about myself. Hopefully it will just continue to snowball and I will be motivated to continue!
Thanks for letting me share my win!
Did a quick microburst last night. Made a paste with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Finished in less than 20 minutes. Would have been faster if I added it to the front panel also but I thought Magic Eraser would work. But nope. The top part came right off but the front required scrubbing. Now I know to put it on ANY surface that has grease. Enjoying this step win today! Looks so shiny and feels squeaky clean! The stove top is a different story lol!
Today I completed a 10 minute Mico burst! Not the way it will end but at least things are not falling off the table, it’s neater looking and ready for the next microburst!
Told myself I was going to set my 10 minute timer to go through old mail earlier this afternoon and kept getting distracted. Didn’t want to go to bed without accomplishing this so just set it now – ended up spending 20 minutes going through the small pile I grabbed. First 10 minute timer exercise is a success!
I was in a slump. So much to process. Decided to just start with a 10 minute microburst. Was tempted to go through the pile and choose what to process. Decided I should listen to April and work the first item and then the next. It’s all got to be processed, right? About 5 minutes in, I came across a veterinary reminder that our pup needs a rabies shot. I thought, “Weren’t we just at the vet for shots and a checkup?” My first reaction was to set it aside and call the vet later to look into it. But wait, that 2 minute rule will work here. I made the call. The vet said they couldn’t do all the shots at the last visit since our pup is so small. Another deep breath. When do I have time to go to the vet again? Today? In 25 minutes? Yes! I finished my 10 minute microburst, and was back from the vet within 45 minutes from starting the microburst. It works!!! Looking forward to my next MB!!
Four Key Decision-Making Criteria
David Allen’s 4 decision-making criteria are extremely helpful here:
- Context – For example, while our kids are at school, we do our computer tasks. When they come home from school, we shift to our home tasks. When we’re running errands, we shift to our errands. That way we’re just naturally accomplishing things as we move throughout the day.
- Time – This is where the concept of 10-minute microbursts really comes into play!
- Energy – If you have five hours and tons of energy, you’re going to make a different choice than if you have 10 minutes and you’re feeling really tired.
- Priority –If two or three things (requiring the same context, time, and energy) are competing, you simply ask yourself which one is the most important.
CHALLENGE: Seriously think about how many times you open your phone during the day—and then consciously choose to replace even just a few of those with Next Actions from your Context-Based Next Actions List.
Then report back and let us know how it goes!
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