(Were you here yesterday? Did you wonder what to do if a task will take MORE than two minutes? LOL. Don't worry; I've got you! Read on.)
Every week I get an email from Build a Menu. It’s a reminder to go to their website and plan my meals for the week. They’re not gonna do it for me, lol, but they will remind me that I need to do it for myself — which is a good thing, in my crazy life.
Because, to be honest, I often just put it off. Meal planning is a task that I don’t enjoy doing (although Build a Menu makes it the easiest of any menu planner I’ve tried, just sayin’), and it won't fit into the “if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now” rule. So I tend to procrastinate about doing it.
But putting it off until “later” or “when I have more time” means that I often won’t get it done at all. So then I’m making dinner on the fly, probably without the necessary ingredients, and with frozen meat… which means we may not eat until 8pm… sigh.
Today’s tip is about what to do with those tasks that are longer than 2 minutes. They may come to us through our email, or in snail mail, or a phone call, or our kid comes to us with something we need to do for them, or we need to have a confab with the hubby, or our friend wants to get together for lunch — you get the idea. You can’t do it right now. But you don’t want to just vaguely say “ok, I’ll get to it later,” because the consequences of that could be not happy.
So, if it’s gonna take longer than two minutes, then SCHEDULE it now.
In other words, open up your planner (as discussed on Day 6), look for an appropriate time to complete that task, and write it down. It may be a few days or weeks from now, depending on what it is, but make that commitment and put it in there.
So if I don’t want to meal plan when I see the Build A Menu email, then I would use it as a reminder to put meal planning on the schedule within the next few days. Which then gives me the freedom to delete the email, so that it's not there to nag me every time I log into Gmail. I don’t need that kind of brain clutter.
Schedule that lunch WHILE you’re on the phone with your friend. Not — “ok, let me call you later.” Instead — “hey, what about the 15th?” This is actually an extension of the under-two-minute rule that we discussed yesterday. It will take you less than two minutes to schedule the lunch, so schedule it now.
Your kid needs help with their science fair project? “Ok, I’m in the middle of something now, but right after lunch we can do that.” And then write it down on your plan for today. You may have to bump something else — re-schedule that one NOW.
Decluttering the junk drawer AGAIN (brought to your attention when you were looking for a safety pin) — Saturday morning is open. Write it down.
Paying that bill — Often a 2-minute item, but in this case you know that first you need to balance the checkbook. Find some time no later than a few days before the bill is due, and write PAY BILLS or BALANCE CHECKBOOK on your calendar.
“Mom, I all my jeans are too short…” Look at the calendar and schedule a trip to the Old Navy Outlet.
“Honey, I would really like to [censored. This is a G-rated blog].” Sometimes you have to schedule that, too! :-)
The beauty of this rule is then many of your decisions about what to do each day are already made, just like we talked about on Day 16. When you reach a new day, you may already have several tasks written down — so THOSE are what you will tackle that day.
Yes, this could be considered a “temporary fix.” But in reality it is a way to gain control over the tyranny of the urgent in our lives. Not everything has to be done NOW. But if we want it to get done at all, finding a place for it on the calendar (or in the planner) provides a greater chance of that happening.
And once the task is scheduled, you can delete it from your brain. You've taken care of it, for now. You'll see it later when you need to. At the moment, you can move on to the next thing with clarity of mind. Doesn't that sound wonderful? :-)
If it will take less than two minutes, just do it now. If it will take more than two minutes, SCHEDULE it now. These are two rules that can work wonders with our productivity and our level of stress.
While you may not be able to use them for every task in your day, you can probably use them often enough to make a difference — maybe even a BIG difference. Give them a try!