Rocks

I have a problem with the way that I build my daily schedule. You see, I give everything a block of time, and plan my day out hour-by-hour the night before. And every day has a small collection of what I like to call “mini-tasks”. Respond to email, log book sales from the day before, record PayPal fees, write checks, invoice clients, and make phone calls.

There are so many of these little mini-tasks each day that I give them the very first hour of my day, usually from 8-9 AM. I do this because nothing feels better than checking off half of the day’s tasks before the first hour is over, and that sense of accomplishment can propel me through the rest of the day. But I’ve begun to notice a pattern in my daily productivity, something that is nagging me in the back of my head.

Every day for the last 6 work days I have gone to bed with the same phone call on my list that I started the day with. It’s nothing major; I am supposed to call the appliance repair shop and have them come out and look at our dishwasher (it’s making a noise like a small outboard motor whenever it’s filling up the machine with water). But when I’m sitting down to send emails and log data for the morning, it is much too early to be calling businesses in town. And so I skip it.

The rest of my day is mapped out like a military exercise, and there are rarely moments between tasks where I remember to do small things like phone calls. And this is bothering me because I keep having to sit down each night and write the words “call about dishwasher” on the next day’s schedule. I’m tired of writing those words. It’s like a rock in your shoe that you can’t seem to shake out or find, but you feel it every time you walk.

I have a very nice system for getting things done, one that had removed a lot of friction from my life and helped me to accomplish more than ever before. But no system is perfect, and sometimes you can tweak all the knobs and create the perfect setup and still have trouble nailing down that one niggling little point. For me, it’s these mini-tasks that need to be done after 9 AM.

What is it for you? What rock is in your shoe right now? Some special exceptions will have to be made for that little item to get taken care of, and I don’t think we can expect to nail them on the first day. But if you see an item move from one day’s task list to another for two or three days, take note of that and look for an alternative solution. Once it’s gone, you’ll find yourself back in a very nice place – on time, on task and headed toward your goals.