15 Questions You Must Answer Before Tackling Your To-Do List
Do you usually just jump into doing something without planning it or at least giving some thought? I still do! And you probably do it too 🙂
What is the result? Usually, mediocre quality and unsatisfactory performance. Content and proud smile is what we all aim for, though.
Why do you think these results were unsatisfactory? Because along the way, we discover that there are other steps involved prior to embarking on doing a task.
But what if it’s just a one step task? Oftentimes, we don’t think our tasks through and after we’ve completed them, we realize it could’ve all been done more efficiently. Any task could be broken down to simpler, more manageable steps.
Practice makes perfect… It’s one the best mantras out there 🙂
What Are All These Questions About?
You’re probably wondering what could be so difficult about answering a bunch of questions? Frankly, nothing. And, don’t be overwhelmed by the number… 15.
Firstly, it’s important to clarify the purpose of answering these questions and how to go about that.
♦ The questions will give you clarity through structure & streamlining.
♦ You will not need to answer all the questions all the time.
♦ Initially, answering the questions will seem tedious but don’t get discouraged.
♦ Think about your answers and delve deep into the “why” a certain task needs to be done.
♦ Answer the questions for tasks/projects you are dreading or are overwhelmed by.
♦ With practice, this exercise will become a quick mental decision.
I decided to split the 15 questions into two categories. The first category will help you set up the structure. The second category will make tackling the task a doable activity; i.e. streamline it.
Goals & Structure of The Task
The first set of question gives you a general idea of the item on your to-do list. It’ll bring clarity to a project you’re working on and encourages you to get on it. It should be easy to exercise if you’ve tried my first quick challenge. These questions allow you to dig deeper into time management.
What is the task/project/item I have to do? Having a visual of the task frees your mind from all the clutter it causes.
Why do I have to do it? This is the immediate result you get from completing a task. Cleaner kitchen, glowing skin from a facial, no late fees because you forgot to return the library books.
What goal will it help me achieve? Here, you look at the overarching purpose of the task. It’s imperative to know the value of completing a task. Perhaps, it boosts your confidence or adds to your sense of self-accomplishment as a mom-in-charge. Maybe, it brings you serenity when the toys aren’t strewn all over all day. Or you just deserve to have that spa appointment. You’re so worth it! Think of the higher purpose. In short, think deep about how the completion of a task enhances your quality of life.
What do I have to do about it? This is a visualization technique where you picture how the task is carried out. The ideal time to perform it and in which fashion. Example: taking your little one to the new spot for indoor playing. Visualize it! Do you know their working hours? Is your child of the appropriate age-category? What are the policies?
What steps do I have to take? Similar to the above question, but on a more practical level. Following the same example, the steps may be something like this. Do they accept my toddler? Call the place to check their hours. Do they accept credit cards or cash only?
What is the first step? Here you write down the very first thing that needs to be done to get the ball rolling. Again, for our example that’ll be phoning the indoors activity grounds and get all the information. But now, you have all the questions you need to ask them written out. No time wasted calling back because of incomplete information 😉
Who can to do it? Pretty straight forward. Don’t shy away from delegating. Connect time freed with a goal you strive to achieve. If someone offers help to help, you can spend time saved on something conducive of a better quality of life
Is it a Passive or Active task? Passive tasks are ones that you do without much focus and are automated. For example, sorting laundry or folding it. Active tasks require concentration, like listening to an audio-book, studying, etc. It’s important to make this distinction to avoid multi-tasking. If your task is passive, add a small active task to it. Make that quick call to confirm a doctor’s appointment (active) on your walk to the subway station (passive) …#NewYorker
Streamlining the Task
So now that you know you’re the only one who can take care of a certain task, we need to get into the nitty gritty of it all. It’s a planning stage in a way. Once you’ve completed answering the following set of questions, you would have overcome a psychological hurdle that causes all to procrastinate. Suddenly, the monster you’ve been dreading is nothing but a scarecrow 🙂
Where do I do it? Identifying the location gives you specificity and allows you file the task for when you’re at it. Hence, you won’t need to think about it until there. Simply, you’ll end up having categories like home, park, grocery, etc. Categorization will later help with batching tasks with similar location together.
Where is it? Where to put it? This question also provides specificity. You’ll be prepared knowing where an item is, or get into the habit of have a place for everything and everything will be found in its place.
When do I need it? Deadlines! If the matter is urgent you need to place great importance on time-specificity. If it isn’t, leave it blank. We’re simply deferring the task for when we have time.
When do I do it? This is an exercise on time-management in conjunction with energy management. Only you can decide that optimal time to perform it. Meditating at noon? There is no rule against it. A night owl who finds optimum energy in the evening, grab the dumbbell.
How to do it? Think about how you can optimize your productivity by using shortcuts or adopting time-saving techniques. Pressure cooker instead of stove cooking, is an example.
Can I simplify it? Tying to identifying our values and the goals we aim it in the previous category, I decided to include this question because often times we simply complicate things. Some matters are indeed complicated by nature, but others do not need to be so. Do you have to cook a fresh meal every day? If it does not clash with your personal values and goals, leftovers is a gift that keeps on giving 🙂
Can it be automated? Press, set and go. Automation is a technological blessing we MUST take advantage of. So instead of taking on more and more tasks thinking technology will handle it all, use technology to relieve some of the burden off of you. Bill paying, smart- coffee makers, automatic laptop backup.
I hope you find these questions provide you with clarity and specificity guidelines for the next time you seriously think about your to-do list. Let me know how it goes!
In the meantime, I’ll be working on a printable checklist with those questions. Do you think it will be helpful?
What questions do you have when attempting to start on a task? Do you have some tricks or tips that make your dreadful tasks more approachable? Share them with me. I’d love to hear from you.
Remember, Mommies, YOU got it!