I’m positive most women have incomplete tasks floating around their heads and even on their to-do lists. I believe it’s always a good idea to dream and keep moving forward with ideas and plans, however, leaving things incomplete can cause an impending sense of stress and anxiety. This is especially true for perfectionists. It doesn’t even have to be super important things like contacting that medical malpractice lawyer or getting your mammogram that crowd your mind. Simple tasks like brushing the cat, fixing that loose handle, or dusting the bookshelf are guilty of making us feel inadequate when they go undone. To help you whittle away at your to-do list, here are some of my top steps for completing tasks and why we may struggle with it.
Why We Don’t Complete Some Tasks and Projects
The reason we may have incomplete tasks is not necessarily because of laziness or procrastination. It could be simply that we don’t prioritize what is important to us. We also may not know how to do some things. Anything that requires a lot of thought or planning takes a back seat, as life can be reactive when it gets busy.
Dissociation and Completing Tasks
We often cope with upsetting things through a process known as dissociation. This, in turn, creates pain surrounding certain tasks. Take for instance, as mentioned above, a legal case that may have caused you pain is a negative memory for you. Doing and completing tasks surrounding this triggers emotions that you don’t like. The mind and body will do what it takes to protect you from this. And, therefore, create the circumstances that don’t allow you to do the job.
To help you overcome this, make sure you understand why you aren’t moving forward with your undone tasks. If they are not that important or are sensitive, you can always wait until you they don’t create stress when you think about them. When you are ready, you can follow the steps below.
Completing Tasks #1: Write Things Down
I have several places in which I write my to-do lists. There is a hard copy on my desk calendar, a list on my large whiteboard, and an app on my phone. You can download an app such as Wunderlist to keep track of your list and action steps. I recommend writing things down in some form for at least a week to get used to doing it. The other thing is don’t filter what comes to mind, even if it’s something you haven’t thought about for a long time. If it’s in your mind, get it out where you can see it.
Completing Tasks #2: Categorize and Prioritize
Now that you’ve got everything out of your mind onto paper, start categorizing and prioritizing tasks and projects. This way you know what is truly urgent and what isn’t. It also helps you to stay on track when your emotions and body tell you to stop. It’s likely you will see things that aren’t necessary right now. This process allows you to let go of old tasks and projects you know you will never do. The categories can be simple like Home, Business, and Personal. Break them out into more specific categories as needed.
Completing Tasks #3: Set Time Limits and Goals
One thing that hinders getting a job done the most is not attaching a time goal to it. For example, you know you need to clean the garage and it’s on your list. It sort of sits there inevitably because you have not given it any urgency. However, if you give yourself until the end of the month to do it, you naturally feel it’s more important. If time isn’t the goal, put some other kind of measurable goal on your tasks.
Completing Tasks #4: Action Steps
You no longer have things floating around in your head, leaving you with a heavy heart and anxiety. They are written down and in order. The final step is to simply start taking steps to accomplish them. As you listed the actual tasks, make a definitive list of how you will get each thing done. Back to the garage cleaning example, under the heading of Clean Garage, write things like Saturday morning work for 1-hour clearing boxes, ask kids to help for 1 hour after school on Wednesday, etc. You get the idea. Make each step clear enough that your tasks don’t overwhelm you.