Someday, maybe?

By johannatime On September 29, 2013 Under Productivity vs Procrastination

Tasks that don’t get done…

You know that type of task, that sits on your to do list for a long time, sometimes for months on end, and somehow, you don’t make any progress on them at all? And when all the tasks around it are ticked off, you take the effort to transfer them to a fresh list? You feel that you should do them, but you don’t seem to have time, and when you finally have time, other things are more urgent, so you still don’t do them? Often, these are big things you procrastinate on. You may have one in mind that sits on your to do list right now…

Having these tasks on you lists slows you down: you lose morale, you feel overwhelmed, you compromise your productivity, you feel guilty or a combination of those. And that doesn’t help you.

There is a clear reason for this phenomenon of having tasks on your list that don’t get done: they are or seem not important or not urgent enough:

  • You may have more pressing things on your list that have strict deadlines so when the 24 hours in the day are over, they fall off the chart, every day: You have no time
  • You are not committed to doing them, maybe you took them on to please someone else, or you think others think you should do them.
  • Or you may have a ton of complicated issues on your plate and you simply don’t have the mental bandwith to take on another difficult assignment

Here is a way to deal with your to do list, including the tasks that don’t get done:

If you allow yourself to have more than one list, you can differentiate between the tasks that you will work on in the near future, say in the next 7 days, and the tasks you allow yourself to do later, when the time is right (i.e. when you do have time, bandwith, commitment). So with every item on your plate, you ask yourself:

Should I be working on this in the next 7 days? Taking into consideration all the other things, too.

  • If the answer is ‘yes’ for whatever reason that weights up against your priorities, place the item on your to do list for this week. Make sure it is a do-able and finishable action, otherwise you will not do it
  • If the answer is ‘no’, place the item on your someday/maybe list. And review your someday/maybe list once every 7-10 days. Consider this list as you wonderful options for the future, so you don’t get bored

Now, your to do list gives you your options to work on this week. Your someday/maybe list items are not asking for your attention, because you put a placeholder for them on your someday/maybe list. Also, they are not compromising your mental bandwith, morale and productivity on the to do’s for this week.

Pitfalls to be aware of

  • By placing your somday/maybe’s on the appropriate list outside your daily work flow, you may forget about them alltogether! So make sure you review your someday/maybe list regularly every 7-10 days
  • Don’t put items on your to do list because you are underestimating the amount of time they would take to get done, or because you are too lazy to think about your real priorities. When your to do list is too long you’ll get overwhelmed and overwhelm will not make you more productive
  • Also be aware that your someday/maybe list should not hold any tasks that you should be working on this week. Don’t place items on this list because you cannot decide about your next action and you procrastinate. You will cause future crises and stress

How do you keep your to do list tasty and usefull? Do you procrastinate on tasks? Can you identify why? Please share your ideas in the comments below:

  • […] have a list for later. It is called my Someday Maybe List. It holds great ideas, suggestions, possibilities and information that may or may not be relevant […]

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