You need both goals and tasks, and they’re easy to confuse. A big reason that people don’t get things on their to do list done isn’t that they procrastinate, but that the list entries aren’t really do-able.
Does your to do list look like this?
- Design the book
- Increase sales this month
- Find an accountant
These are actually all goals, not tasks. A goal is reached via a series of tasks. Once you identify a goal you need to figure out what the first thing to do is. Do that, then figure out the next thing. And so on.
Here’s a real to do list based on the list above:
- Narrow color schemes down to 2 choices and create palettes
- Contact top three clients this week and remind them of the new products
- Ask Maya and Rob if they can recommend an accountant
Notice that to do’s are much more specific. They are active, they have deadlines and they involve particular people. As soon as they’re done, they’re replaced by the next logical step, for example, schedule a meeting to present the color schemes, or follow up the client calls with mailed brochures.
If something is languishing on your list for weeks on end, it might be a goal. To find out, just ask yourself, well, how do I design the book? You know the answer already; you just need to put that on the list instead.