Organizational experts advise clients who have trouble getting things done to always tackle the biggest, most important things first. This is logical for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it’s theoretically easier to deal with the little stuff once the stress of the big project is done.
The problem with this theory, though, is that people with poor organizational skills often have trouble estimating the amount of time a given project should take. So they might get through the big project, but not have the time available to complete the smaller, less important stuff.
Like just about every person in the modern world, I have a list of big “little things” that I never seem to get to. Things that it would be nice to have off my to-do list, but that are not imperative. After I get my daily (work) writing deadlines met, I should move on to these little, less important tasks, but if I leave them to the end of the day, that never seems to happen.
Currently my less-pressing to-do list includes: typing up a bunch of recipes from bits of paper and magazines so I can de-clutter my cookbook shelf; copying most of my CD collection to digital files so I can play them on my iPod; scanning about 10 years worth of print photographs and adding the appropriate ones to Facebook so people can actually see them; and copying posts from both Save Your Fork (my old food blog) and TasteTO over here so all of my writing is in one place.
Some of these projects (like the photo scanning) have been on to to-do list for years.
Despite the advice of organizational experts, I’ve always felt that if you are really able to judge and keep track of your time, it is often more beneficial to do the little stuff first. Even if you don’t complete it all, even if the project is done incrementally, at least something is getting done and you have a sense of accomplishment that transfers into energy and enthusiasm to tackle other projects.
So I’ve begun assigning myself “homework”. Before I start my real work for the day, I spend an hour chipping away at these less-important chores. I scan some photos while I’m copying recipes. I burn some songs from a handful of CDs while I go through old writing. Ever so slowly, I’m chipping away at these intimidating projects. Half a dozen pics a day, a couple of recipes, 3 or 4 CDs, 3 or 4 posts moved.
All of these projects have a long way to go yet (I’m almost through Rock and Pop with the CD collection, but Goth and Industrial could well last me until the new year), but after that hour every morning, I am always pleased with my progress. Every day is another hour towards getting it all done; one more step to being organized. And it’s something that I can cross off that day’s to-do list with pleasure, enthusiastic about moving on to the next task and getting my work done for the day.