We have a lot of demands on our time; texts, messages, e-mails, app notifications, even the occasional phone call or teleconference. We are moving to a paperless world but still have the paperwork without the paper. It can be easy to become paralyzed in the face of multiple competing demands.
What can we do? How can we effectively attend to all the demands?
I have found one simple, yet effective, strategy to make sure all my daily tasks get done: “take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.” I know, it seems too simplistic, but trust me it is effective. For example; if you can review an e-mail/assignment/task once, take action, then move on to the next job you can get a lot done. In the time it takes to write a to-do list, you can accomplish your to-done list. Taking care of the little things creates space for the big things to happen.
It’s a little bit like gardening. If you’ve ever had a garden you know that the chore of pulling weeds is easy to avoid, there is always something a little more fun to tackle than the weeds. But what happens when you don’t do the weeding for a few days? Your garden gets overrun and your vegetables don’t have room to grow.
There’s an added emotional benefit of taking care of the little stuff. When we successfully complete a task the reward center in our brain gets activated, dopamine gets released and we feel good. And when we get a lot of tasks done our brains get rewarded a lot. It creates a virtuous-cycle, success builds on itself, and getting things done helps you get more things done.
To recap… tackle the little things so the big things can happen. It works.