This is perfectly normal: doing a lot of small chores in the day often feels like you have achieved nothing at all. But is that really what has happened? In many cases, that feeling of not having done much has more to do with the fact that all the little things you did were too small to register as a chore, or you actually enjoyed doing them!
There is a difference between a to do list and the daily tasks that you perform as a matter of standard. You may end your day not having checked off anything from that list, but in the meantime you have done the housework, taken care of the kids and any emergencies they may have created or run into, done the gardening, prepared three meals and done a lot of cleaning. Those are lots of chores, but they don’t usually show up on a to do list, simply because you consider them normal daily tasks. You may not even think of them as tasks, but just ‘life as usual’.
There’s the time and the effort you have spent on this day. It’s no wonder that the big tasks on that list are not done.
And then again, while this explains why the big tasks don’t get done, it’s no excuse for not doing them or endlessly postponing them. They need to get done, too. It’s a good thing that there are ways to tackle those larger tasks!
First of all, you want to separate each large tasks into several smaller ones, if at all possible. “Getting rid of old paperwork” may look good on the list, but it’s such a daunting task that you may just skip it because it never feels as if there’s enough time to finish properly. It’s also pretty vague: which paperwork are you thinking of, how will you decide, where will it go afterwards, do you need to organise it in some way, and many other questions will come up. Those need to be answered first.
Then cut the task into smaller chunks. Maybe start with “find all the old magazines” followed by “recycle old magazines”, then “collect all paperwork” in one place, followed by “sort into categories”, then “remove unnecessary papers”, etc.
By separating into different smaller tasks you’ll be able to move forward and check off each task as you go along. You will also be able to finish each smaller task in a reasonable chunk of time, rather than getting bogged down by something that seems to go on forever. Not only will you be able to see progress on your list, but you’ll also gradually be less daunted by the totality of the task than before. And ultimately, once you have checked off the last bit, that large task will have vanished.
The second tips is much simpler: once you have managed to create smaller tasks, make sure to finish one each day. Don’t just imagine that you’ll get to one each day, but after finishing one, indicate which one you’ll do tomorrow. That will keep the momentum going and allow you to mentally prepare for the next task that you’ll face. It will also allow you to prepare everything you need for that next task: get the supplies you need rather than running out and postponing again, prepare a space to get something done ahead of time, etc.
You’ll be surprised how much headway you can make with a little bit of planning and a modicum of preparation. Give it a go! Start today.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.