Starting the first of the year my husband and I put together our projects (whether it’s the house, travel, development, etc) for the coming year, and I put layout my strategy plan for the business. This is the big picture stuff. Then I start to work on the immediate stuff, such as getting the tax documentation ready and sent off to the tax preparer. This year, though, was a struggle; I couldn’t quite figure it out. It felt like slogging through mud, with no relief in sight. I found it discouraging and plodding. And then I realized I was trying to do everything at once!
It was one of those epiphanies that hits you upside the head (I flashed on NCIS when Gibbs used to slap Tony DiNozzo behind the ear) and you get it! I hadn’t broken the task into doable pieces to experience the joy of completing small wins.What is holding you back in completing the mid-size tasks? #ClearPathForward #women #midlife #transition #0ver50 #breakitdown Click To Tweet
I had written into my calendar “Work on Financials,” and allotted time. What I hadn’t done is write down the very specific tasks that needed to be accomplished so I could call this project DONE. When I went back and broke it all down, here’s what it looked like:
- Pull hard copy financial files
- Review files, scan easy ones, and paperclip the remaining ones together in piles (I am converting my office from paper to full-on electronic, so I am also making decisions on how much to move to electronic versus how much to remain in hard copy and keep for the three to seven year document retention period)
- Input all end-of-year financials
- Have controller (my husband) review all input to ensure accuracy
- Align what’s in computer with hard copy versus electronic documents for tax preparer. (My mini-verification for electronic conversion. So excited, come 2018 taxes this won’t be needed!)
- Scan needed documents for tax preparer that I missed in first go-round (This also won’t be needed in 2018)
- Submit tax preparer documentation and wait for input
The above listing, give or take a few items, is really what I was imagining under the heading of “Work on Financials.” The result after I wrote down everything? I completed the overall task of working on financials quickly, felt good about my accomplishments, and submitted necessary information to tax preparer a week in advance. YEAH!!
More importantly, here’s what breaking down into mini-tasks accomplished for me:
- Realized I was making progress towards my bigger goal of conversion from paper to electronic
- Able to check/mark each step of the mini-tasks and see that work was being accomplished
- Gave myself a mini-timeframe for completing each task, which lessened the overall time
As a project planner from childhood, my mother used to remind me that I would project plan outings for our family when I was under 10. It was quite humbling to realize that I had gone from the learner stage of conscious/competent to unconscious/competent with regard to project planning. I was so unconscious that I started leaving some basic steps out, like breaking down mid-size tasks into much smaller chunks.
ACTION: What is holding you back in completing the mid-size tasks scheduled in your calendar? Examine if any of those need to broken down further into mini-tasks. If the answer is yes, before heaping on more guilt, write down those mini-tasks and lift the pressure off of yourself.
Kathy Hart, EdD’s driving passion is human change and transformation. Her goal is to provide professional women in midlife with the support and resources needed to re-imagine and lead even more abundant, joy-filled and purpose-driven lives. If you are a woman wanting to reclaim your voice, realize a long-held dream, or just live your life to the fullest, take concrete action by contacting Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org. The choice is yours!
Services that Kathy offers:
- 1:1 coaching to support the journey into your midlife transition
- Trusted advisor for leaders navigating work changes and requiring an expert guide
- Speaking and workshops on human change and transformation
- Small group work and team development to boost the group’s performance