Getting organized: Do the small stuff NOW

Both Deborah Graff and Hilary suggested doing the little stuff as you think of it rather than throwing it onto the teetering pile of Things To Do Later.

From Deborah:

Whenever possible, I complete tasks as soon as they occur to me. For example, if I remember someone’s birthday is coming up I immediately fill out a card (yep, I keep a stack of them on hand), put on a stamp and mail it. Only takes a minute and it’s DONE. If my daughter rips a page in a book, I immediately grab a roll of tape, fix it and put the book back on the shelf. Don’t let all those little tasks pile up around you or your mind will never clear!

And Hilary:

I recently read a suggestion to do whatever little tasks come up that take less than a minute. It sounds too simple to be true, but it works. If you see a cup that needs to go to the dishwasher, if our son says "Hey mom look at this bug!", if you should really put that phone number on the scrap of paper into your family address book, stop and do it.

I used to have a mental debate that would take most of a minute, weighing the pros of doing the task versus all the other tasks I was ignoring at the moment, and would end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Now, I just stop, do it, and feel accomplished. For a minute, anyway.

Not surprisingly, this is another tenet of David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy: any task that can be completed in under two minutes isn’t worth the time or mental energy it takes to write it on a list and track.

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  1. Sarah says

    I definitely function better if I can see something getting accomplished. I’ve taken on a huge task of reorganizing the unfinished half of our basement which we use for storage. I’m turning about 1/3 of it into a craft room and getting shelves organized in the rest.

    I don’t buy into the whole fly lady system but I am using her principle of spending 15 minutes a day decluttering a problem area. The short bursts of work really add up and I can see my way to the finish now.

  2. Sarah says

    I just realized I posted my comment in the wrong spot. I meant for it to go with the post about taking baby steps. Sorry!

  3. says

    I always, always, always get the little things done as soon as it pops into my head. It feels good, for sure, but I do this mainly because I could forget it just as fast! I dislike lists and the time used to make one. That time can be much better sent doing stuff, actually taking action.