As I write this, I am honestly not sure if what I'm about to write about is actually in Stephen R. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. At the same time, every guide to how to be an efficient person ever written includes setting goals, and breaking them up into bite sized chunks.
I guess I've pretty much always done this. I mean, you have to start every project with baby steps. But the idea of figuring out all the minutiae of the steps of how to reach your goals and then writing them all down in your handy planner always seemed a little silly. But then I realized something...
I've always loved to-do lists. Even more than to-do lists, I've always loved crossing things off to-do lists. It's so satisfying! You just accomplished something, now you get to cross it off the list! Remove it from your mind! Woohoo!
Sometimes, I'll do something I've been needing to do (or meaning to do) and then realized it's not in my planner (my perpetual to-do list, as it were). Usually, if this happens, I will write the thing down on my to-do list just for the joy of crossing it off. Sometimes I'll write menial tasks on my to-do list, just so I can cross something off once I do it. ("Eat some fruit" or "Take a shower").
Unfortunately, neither of these strategies really helps me get anything done. It just leaves me doing the easiest things on my to-do list first, so I can cross more things off, while I don't actually accomplish anything important.
What does help? Breaking my big tasks down into smaller tasks and writing all those things down, so that they are the easiest things on my to do list. Then, for every large thing I have to do, I can cross off four or five things from my to do list.
I sound totally lame right now. I guess I'll just post this, so I can cross "blog post about writing to do lists" off my to do list. Sigh.