Which Task First? A Practical Process to Get More Done

This is one of the biggest questions facing anyone that is facing a long to-do list: which task should you complete first?

For most of us, a typical working day – or even a typical weekend of chores – is going to involve a number of different tasks, each of which will challenge us in unique ways.

We might have a few big jobs to complete which may include things like filling out spreadsheets, clearing an inbox, tidying a room, or reading a book.

On top of this, we might also have a bunch of smaller tasks, which can include such things as:

• Answering emails
• Making calls
• Fixing errors from yesterday
• Taking out the trash

As well as varying in size though, these tasks will likely also vary in terms of importance and urgency.

Faced with such a huge list of tasks, it can sometimes be hard to know where to begin. And this indecision can lead to options paralysis – basically preventing us from doing anything even moderately useful.

So, how do you prioritize and approach such a list?

Urgent versus Important

One thing to consider, and this is an idea that is popularized by Tim Ferriss, is which of your tasks are important versus which are urgent.

Important tasks need to get done, yes. But urgent tasks need to be done sooner.

So, an urgent task in this case might mean responding to an email regarding a decision that needs to be made in the next hour. An important task might be reaching out to a potentially lucrative new client.

Tasks that are urgent and important are the ones that should be completed first.

But after that, you should give priority to your urgent tasks.

And of course, once you’ve completed the important tasks next, you can then go on to look at your frivolous tasks.

Close Open Loops

Another tip that Tim Ferriss advocates is to “close open loops.”

What does this mean?

Essentially, it means ticking off those small unnecessary tasks at the start of the day that are going to nag at you.

Some jobs are quick and easy to complete, like responding to emails. However, they can nevertheless cause us anxiety and make us stressed. This, then, actually ends up stealing our attention away from the more important tasks that require more attention and focus.

Closing open loops helps you to stay fixated on the most important tasks – and that is crucial.

Zombie Mode

Finally, consider that at two points during the day, you are likely to be in what is referred to as “zombie mode.” Zombie mode occurs first thing in the morning (before that coffee kicks in) and at the end of the day.

With lowered mental faculties at this point, it becomes more appropriate for you to complete tasks that require less focus. Zombie mode tasks include things like responding to simple emails, entering non-critical data, and stuffing envelopes.

A zombie-mode task is anything that you could complete while holding a conversation.

Schedule these for the times when you aren’t firing on all cylinders.

Leaving Things Unfinished

Finally, once you get to the end of the day, start tomorrow’s most urgent task but don’t finish it.

Why? Because it creates a new open loop. But this time the open loop is a positive thing. That’s because we have a natural inclination and urge to want to finish tasks that we’ve already started. So, if you begin the next project, it will be that much easier to pick it up again tomorrow. In fact, it will be hard not to!

Use this process each day at work and each time you have a long to-do list. You’ll enjoy less stress and greater productivity.

The Inner Road to Mastering Minimalism

There’s more to minimalism than clearing away clutter and buying less stuff. Unless you change your thinking, you’ll find it difficult to downsize, and you may miss out on the major advantages of simple living.

Understanding why you overstuff your closets and your schedule will make changing your habits easier and more satisfying. Consider these 3 common obstacles and what you can do about them.

Overcoming Materialism:

Happiness has more to do with experiences and relationships rather than possessions.

Shift your energy toward activities that have the most positive impact with these strategies:

1. Pause before buying. Do you order kitchen appliances online and then wonder why you thought you needed them? Give yourself a cooling off period to reduce impulse purchases.

2. Take vacations. Less than half of U.S. workers make full use of their vacation days. Plan a holiday around something you’ve been wanting to do but keep putting off.

3. Watch less TV. Studies show that screen time doesn’t contribute much to your wellbeing. Go play sports or work on your hobby.

Increasing Your Self Esteem:

Is your self-image based on what you own?

Build a more solid foundation for affirming your true worth with these techniques:

1. Resist comparisons. Cut back on social media and magazines if they make you pine for the expensive clothing and exotic vacations celebrities enjoy. Appreciate the pleasures in your life, like drinking your morning coffee or watching the sun set.

2. Practice self-care. Giving your mind and body what they really need may eliminate the urge for retail therapy. Eat a balanced diet, stay physically active, and get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

3. Advocate for yourself. Practice asking for what you want. Express your needs and feelings respectfully and directly.

4. Know your strengths. Take an inventory of your talents and skills. Look for ways to adapt your work methods to make the most of your abilities.

Developing an Abundant Mindset:

With a scarcity mindset, you view the world as one pie where you have to compete to get a slice. Abundant thinking recognizes the ability to bake more pies, so you don’t have to worry about going hungry.

It’s an attitude that will help you to let go of things you cling to out of fear.

Keep these ideas in mind to build an abundant mindset:

1. Give more. Look for opportunities to share your time, money, kindness, and talents. Offer sincere compliments to your coworkers. Spend an afternoon helping an older neighbor weed their lawn.

2. Express gratitude. Cultivate a sense of appreciation. Let others know how their actions have made positive changes in your life. Keep a journal where you can write about the blessings you experience each day.

3. Change your vocabulary. Examine how you talk to yourself and others. Choose words that motivate you to put forth effort and persist until you see the results you’re aiming for.

4. Keep growing. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Recognize that you have something to learn from each individual who you meet. Put your new knowledge into action so your performance becomes more efficient and effective.

Minimalism is an effective way to reduce stress, connect with others, and live a more meaningful life. While you’re cleaning out your garage and cancelling subscriptions, be sure to examine your priorities and think about your purpose.

Radical Acceptance and What It Can Do for You

Those that don’t practice radical acceptance often lament that things aren’t the way they’d like them to be. They complain about the situation not being fair. They judge situations and people. Does this sound like you?

Radical acceptance means accepting people and situations as they are. It’s about accepting reality.

Many people confuse acceptance with approval, but this isn’t accurate. Accepting the reality of a situation means that you’re moving beyond judging it and are looking for possible solutions.

Instead of crying and whining about the weather, you’re looking for an umbrella. Instead of wallowing over a lost job, you’re making a plan to tighten up your finances and find a new job.
Instead of complaining that you don’t have many friends, you get busy building your social circle.

Use these strategies to allow radical acceptance to bring you emotional peace and positive change:

1. Recognize what you can and cannot control. This is a great first step for understanding radical acceptance. Accept what you can’t control and take action to create your desired results with those things you can control.

2. Understand the pain that a lack of acceptance creates. Refusing to accept your current situation, past, or limitations is a recipe for misery.

3. Acknowledge the reality of the situation. What is your current situation financially, socially, educationally, and professionally? What is your current health status? What is the reality of your life? When you are able to identify and accept your current situation, you’re in a position to make wise decisions.

4. Be present. You’re not practicing radical acceptance if you’re daydreaming, thinking of the past, or dreaming about the future. The only reality is happening right now.

5. Accept your situation without judgment. To truly accept it, you can’t judge it. Judging means that you’re deciding whether it’s good or bad, positive or negative. Judging means you can be upset or pleased by it. Radical acceptance just accepts what is without judgment.

Radical acceptance is both easy and challenging. It can be the easiest thing in the world. You just stop judging, accept reality, and take whatever action is appropriate.

It can be challenging because there are advantages to focusing on your suffering. Some people are addicted to the drama they create in their head.

It’s easier to justify not taking action when you immobilize yourself emotionally.

And let’s face it, judging is a habit that can be challenging to overcome. We also like making excuses for ourselves.

Related Reading: Comprehensive Self development online guide

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by: Helene

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