Have you ever had things that sit on your to-do list for days or even weeks?
Things that you know you should get to but you really don’t feel like it or you just can’t muster the energy?
Do you ever get stuck on a project and don’t know what to do?
I have a suggestion that will help you get unstuck and actually do those pesky tasks that you can’t seem to check off.
Here are the 2 words: Ask yourself, What’s the “next thing?”
Here’s how this works.
I need to register my youngest son for kindgarten (sob).
I’m tempted to write “kindergarten registration” on my list and leave it at that. But I actually need to find the registration flyer first.
If I write “kindergarten registration” on my list I’ll get stuck because I’ll think, “Oh, I can’t do that right now (because I need to dig up the flyer first.)” And this item will stay on my list for days!
So my “next thing” is “find kindergarten flyer” and then “call school for appointment.” THOSE are my 2 next steps, not the registration itself.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Why does this little change in language matter so much?
You might think I’m being a little picky for writing an entire article about the words you use on your to-do list. But take a look at these examples and see which of these things makes it easier for you to take action:
|Too unspecific||A good “next thing”|
|Declutter the basement||Pick shelf to declutter|
|Go grocery shopping||Make menu and shopping list|
|Plan birthday party||Make guest list and pick party date|
|Volunteer at school||Check calendar for open dates to volunteer|
|Buy son new shoes||Measure son’s shoe size|
The second column seems much easier to do, doesn’t it?
Why does the “next thing” help you get “unstuck”?
First, “thinking” is easier than “doing.”
Do you agree? Mostly, anyway. When you ask yourself “what’s the next thing?”, you’re not requiring any physical action just yet. It’s easy! So you’re not stuck and you gain momentum.
Second, it’s much easier to act on your “next thing.”
When it’s time to act, you’re looking at a list item that you can actually do! If your task is not really the “next thing”, it’s going to rouse up all kinds of objections like:
- I don’t know what to buy at the store…
- I actually need to get some cash before I go shopping anyway…
- I can’t begin to think how to plan that birthday party…
- Do I really have time to volunteer?
So give yourself a task that you can do and it’s 100 times easier to take action.
Photo by Pixabay
What if you’re still stuck?
If you look at your list and you’re STILL stuck, maybe you’re not quite at the next thing yet. Maybe instead of “make guest list” you need to write “ask child to pick 3 friends to invite.” Maybe instead of “make shopping list”, you need to write “check pantry (to see what we have left).”
This tip is similar to the little trick I use to keep my house cleaner. It’s not rocket science, but a little shift in thinking makes a BIG difference!
So the next time you feel stuck, just use these 2 magic words and see if it’s easier to get moving.
I got my son registered for kindergarten today. Once I found that flyer, the rest was a piece of cake!