Last week I attended an online nonfiction writers conference which was fabulous, but consumed a lot of time. Because I’m too antsy to sit for several days (and because I am perpetually behind on the laundry) I decided to multi-task. It seemed reasonable to me that in the course of three days I could sort, wash, fold and put away whatever laundry life threw at me while listening to the conference speakers and taking notes.
Turns out it wasn’t reasonable at all.
I washed sheets, towels, uniforms for two sports, dark clothes, light clothes and assorted socks and underwear. But at the end of three days I had laundry everywhere and I wasn’t close to “done”. And, of course, the uniforms were dirty again.
This is yet another example of how I set myself up for failure, by taking on more than I can accomplish in the time allowed. Or maybe I should say I set myself up for feelings of failure because who am I really measuring myself against, anyway?
To counter this, I’m trying out a new technique for sorting my tasks. I’m calling it Now-Later-Never.
Now tasks are pretty self-explanatory because they require immediate action – cleaning up cat vomit, taking a phone call from a key client, digging a dirty baseball sock out of the utility room 20 minutes before the game.
Later tasks are things I can put off for some amount of time without negative impact – scheduling routine appointments, filling out summer camp forms, outlining a presentation I’m not giving for two months. Admittedly, over time, some of these will become Now tasks.
Never tasks are my favorites. I just don’t do them at all because:
- I miss the events or deadlines (so how important could they have been?)
- The level of activity in my life ratchets up, so some things don’t seem as important anymore
- Someone else can do them – provide dinner, empty the dishwasher, submit my business tax forms
It’s true that by subscribing to this method there are times when I’m doing only what is required to get by. For those you in start-up business mode, think minimum viable product. Not very ambitious, perhaps, but it gets me by.
And granted, this doesn’t always work with the laundry – I’ve only opted to throw clothes out instead of washing them a couple of times. I’ll spare you the details.
What’s the Never task on your list? Post your comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.