As a textbook overthinker and multi-passionate person, I'm constantly being pulled in different directions, jumping from one thing to the next, leaving half finished projects and never ending to-do lists in my wake.
And what’s worse is sometimes I have so many things swirling around in my head that I can’t choose what to focus on and end up doing none of them! Relatable?? It’s absolutely exhausting.
Well, I knew I couldn’t go on like that forever and decided I needed a system. Something to help me quiet my crowded mind, choose what to focus on and actually make a plan to get it done.
So, what’s my system? It’s a super simple (but really helpful) way to capture and prioritise tasks so you can focus on getting shit done! And I’m about to share it with you right now...
Ready? Here it is:
- Braindump everything that’s on your mind
- Choose which things are most important
- Prioritise what to work on first
- Make an action plan
That’s it. Sounds pretty easy right? Using this framework will help you:
- Unburden your mind from holding onto all these thoughts
- Capture and categorise problems and tasks
- Prioritise what’s most important to work on and what can be let go for now
- Create a quick and simple action plan to tick that thing off your list!
Let’s take a step-by-step look at exactly how you can use this right now to start taking action in only 20 mins! It’s gunna feel quick but we don’t wanna give our brains too many chances to overthink stuff.
1. Braindump everything that’s on your mind
Get a block of post-it notes, if you don’t have those you can use a notebook, random sheet of paper, or the blood of your enemies.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and start writing! Put one thing per post-it note and keep them simple, just a couple of words, anything that’s on your mind as an “I need to do that” write it down! Don’t worry about whether it’s relevant or important, if it’s on your mind get it out of there.
Keep writing until the timer goes off, even if you think you ran out of stuff to write just see what else comes out.
For me, this is often the most helpful part. Sometimes I’ll just stop at this step because I already feel so much lighter and able to focus after...
Depending how many tasks you end up with once the timer goes off you might want to arrange them into categories. For example, maybe you have a lot of things to do around the house and you could group those together. This will give you an idea of what part of your life might have a backlog of tasks. Otherwise, just read over them and get rid of any duplicates.
2. Choose which things are most important
Now that we’ve brain dumped everything that we want to do, we have to choose what to focus on… “But how??” You say. “Choooosing is my biggest struggle!” Don’t worry, I’ll help you!
Give yourself 10 “votes”. You can use sticky dots if you have them or just draw a dot or a star on your post-it (or next to the word if you’re using a notebook).
Set a timer for 5 minutes and start voting on which tasks you think are the most important to work on and will take the least amount of effort. You can vote more than once on the one task so if you think it’s really important then chuck some more votes on there!
When you’re finished voting, move your most voted post-its to the side and arrange them from most votes to least.
3. Prioritise what to work on first
Buckle up, we’re about to do some more choosing! You might be thinking, wait a second… didn’t we just choose in step 2? That was more of a general narrowing down of all of our tasks, now we want to know which ONE task we’ll work on first.
Draw up a table that looks like this:
Set your timer for 5 mins again. Take your most voted task and ask yourself: How much impact would it have to complete this task right now? Hold it somewhere over the vertical axis.
Then, ask yourself: How much effort would it take me to complete this task? Hold it somewhere over the horizontal where it feels like a good fit, then stick! Repeat this for all of your voted tasks.
The top left quadrant is the sweet spot. Anything that falls here is “Do Now!” (starting with the task closest to the top left corner). Anything in the bottom right you should consider whether it’s worth even thinking about.
Yay! We have our priority!
4. Make an action plan
Now we’re actually gunna get some things ticked off our list, one task at a time!
Take the task closest to the top left corner of the chart and break it down into no more than 3-4 simple steps.
That’s it. That’s your action plan.
Go do the first step right now!!
After you finish that task, get the next one and make a plan for that one. Repeat until they’re all done. 😊
You are now a prioritisation master!
How great does it feel to finally be able to focus on your one thing and put everything else to the sidelines for a while? What a relief! 😌
I strongly believe it’s so important to understand your goals and prioritise tasks to avoid getting stuck in a cycle of overwhelm and analysis paralysis. It creates a sturdy foundation for whatever it is you want to achieve, whether that’s in your business or your life, and keeps you moving forward.