Split Up Your To-Dos

An important part of getting your business off the ground is being organized and productive. To do lists are a great way to get started, but they tend to grow until they paralyze us with fear.

In Getting Things Done, author David Allen observed that to do lists are typically more like project lists. That is to say, you can’t just sit down and accomplish many of the things on your list because they involve multiple steps in multiple different contexts. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a great starting point for productivity. And then when you’re ready to level up, get one of these incredible productivity journals.

I’ve got a technique that I would add for dealing with project lists. When I’m planning – or to wade out of a period of plancrastinating, I use something I call “splitting.” Take a task from your list that seems like you can’t sit down and do it in less than two minutes. Delete it. Scribble it out.

Now, create at least two more in its place.

It might be that your resulting tasks are still too much to think about. Still too daunting. Still too boring. So do it again. Rinse and repeat.

I like to keep going until it’s stupid. As in “if I make this task any simpler, someone might think I’m mentally defective.”

Sometimes you can go one step further. You might be able to reword the task more in terms of HOW you need to do it rather than WHAT needs to be accomplished.

Make sure your small business doesn’t stagnate because of a productivity problem. Use Getting Things Done to get started; get yourself a productivity planner; figure out if you’re procrastinating or plancrastinating; split those tasks until you can’t split them anymore (and now you’ll know for certain if you’re procrastinating). Then… get to work!