Tasks vs. Projects

In a previous post, I talked about my love for TO DO lists. I shared that Google Tasks is my favorite and that I find great satisfaction in checking off items.  

But I must confess that in this post I didn't admit my weakness with lists. And if we are going to be honest friends, learning and growing together this journey, I need to shoot straight with you: I don't usually create helpful to do lists.

I love them yes, and I love checking off the items I get done, but my downfall is that I make lists of goals or projects, rather than tasks. I put together a list for a day that I realize in my right mind will never be accomplished in one day. However, instead of adjusting or eliminating that list to make it more achievable, I find myself toiling to get it all done, and I live ever frustrated and constantly discouraged under the guilt that I never get enough done. Am I the only one who does this?? 

To Do lists have a strict and simple purpose. They are tasks that can get completed in a day. If you have an item that takes you an entire day, it should be the only item on your list for that day. If you choose to have more on your list, they should be things that take 10-30 minutes to accomplish. (And if we are talking honestly, I need to recognize that I also have a poor perception of the duration for tasks. For example, I cannot run an errand in 8 minutes, not even to the bank. I need to put a little more margin in my time... should this be another post?)

Here is my to do list from today: 

  • Call Katie- I plan 2 minutes to leave a message, but she ends up answering. We talk for 45 min, and the conversation was so good for my soul but slowed down my "productivity". 
  • Confirm Appointments- I plan 20 minutes to text everyone, but then there is an adjustment for Tuesday and it ends up taking about 40 minutes to reconfirm
  • Find & print iCloud receipt- 3 min, as long at the internet and copier are working...

All those seem normal, but then there's these:

  • Respond to emails- like ALL 34?! This could take me all day because emails contain their own tasks within them...
  • Write thank you cards- How many? It takes me 6-10 minutes to write one card. Unless it's heartfelt and then it is about 30 minutes to draft and then write. What can I say- I like encouraging others.
  • Buy gifts for upcoming birthdays- This is a project. Period. It really needs to be broken down into researching for gifts, ordering online, going to each store, buying wrapping paper, and wrapping gifts. 
  • Plan Staff Development- Yup, here's another project. I need to make tasks out of this to even begin to feel accomplished. 

So as you can see, there is an art to task lists, but "Mastering my To Do List" is a project I don't expect to get done in a day. 


P.S.- Here are some articles I have found helpful if you can relate: