Each day we’re presented with a long list of responsibilities and activities.
Precrastinators tend to find motivation in accomplishing things, no matter how small, and can thrive on a long to-do list. They may have worked out, gotten a load of laundry in, responded to emails, and had a healthy breakfast all before many others have gotten out of bed.
Procrastinators, on the flip side, may feel anxious when tasks are piling up, further compounding the issue as time seems to slip away.
Here’s our working framework for handling day-to-day tasks:
Write It Down
Juggling a long to-do list in our brains creates anxiety and the desire to offload the tasks as quickly as possible, whether by doing them (precrastinators) or avoiding them (procrastinators). It doesn’t quite matter where you write things down — a digital notes app, a physical notepad, the back of a receipt — just do it, and do it quickly, before the idea escapes you and you spend the rest of the day trying to remember what that thing was.
For this step, you’ll want a little more structure. We’ve developed this framework; you can use our digital versions, print out a weekly one, or even draw your own in a notebook. For each task, idea, project, and even indulgence, determine which section it belongs in and when you want to get to it.
Make a Plan
On most days, you’ll probably want to start with the things that are most important and urgent. But maybe not always. You can decide to give yourself a day off, and explicitly spend time on your “maybes,” which might include fun indulgences or adventures that don’t always make it to the top of the priority list, knowing that you’ll start the next day focused on the important and urgent section again.
(For precrastinators, this is actually hard to do, and takes determination. For procrastinators, it might be tempting to do too often. Here, we say know thyself, and lean into the approach that runs counter to your preinclination, at least some of the time.)
Get It Done
Whatever you’ve committed to doing today, get started. There will inevitably be distractions, and you may not complete everything every day, but by periodically revisiting your framework, you’ll be able to monitor your progress and reassess, perhaps moving things to the following day if they’re not realistic for today, or even crossing things off that no longer seem important, or that someone else handled already.