It’s easy for me to feel paralyzed by the enormity of the things I have to do. The time available to me always feels finite but the list of tasks to accomplish infinite. It can easily lead to some freaking out as I’m concerned what I’m doing at any given moment isn’t as important as what I could be doing. Or I will become concerned if I start X task it will go on endlessly and I’ll completely lose track of where the day is going.

There’s one change I made to my productivity that changed that: I set time limits on certain things.

I have a lot to do today, the day I’m writing this. This post is one of those action items recorded in my bullet journal. I had the idea earlier in the morning to share this and have the time to get it and other things done so I’m going to get it done. When I opened the new Google Doc to start drafting, it was 11:00 am and I told myself I would have it done by 11:30. 30 minutes from start to scheduled in WordPress. That’s it. It will get done.

What that time goal helps me do is realize once more that I can accomplish anything and everything I need to with the time I have. If I write this in the 30 minutes allotted then I can write something else in the next half hour and then move on to other projects. It means I can’t go waste time on Twitter or YouTube. It means I can cross something else off my list. It means I created something that satisfied the itch I feel about an idea. It means hopefully someone finds this useful and keeps me moving toward my goals.

This sort of mindset pairs nicely with the approach of using every 10 minutes. Instead of sitting here thinking “Well what am I going to do now?” and not being productive whenever I have the opportunity to do so, I’m getting this done.

The time limits I allow myself vary on the task at hand. This was 30 minutes. A project I’m working on this afternoon will probably be two hours. I’ll start it at X time and say I’ll be done two hours later, come hell or high water. But it’s going to get done today because I can.

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, give this a try. You probably have a pretty good idea how long something will take. Either you’ve done that exact thing or something like it before or have the experience to make a reasonable estimate. You’re accountable only to yourself, but if you don’t get it done you’ll have to justify to your own mind why and why it should take up time tomorrow when you might have a busier, less flexible schedule.

Maybe you aren’t getting something done because it’s not important. If that’s the case, take it off your To Do List and move on so it stops taking up mental real estate. Otherwise, set a short, measurable, reasonable time window to act on it and get it done.

(BTW, this was scheduled in WordPress at 11:26.)