Don’t plan to bite more than you can chew

You have been reading the personal finance articles for years now. Every now and then you think “this is worthy trying”. You then get it on your “to do list”. You then realise that the “to do list” just overwhelms you. You then say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” This tomorrow never comes. I do it all the time myself. At this point, remember that procrastination is a big enemy of financial progress.

How do you get around it? How can you make yourself do all of the “important but not urgent” things you need to get done in your life, when it’s so easy to put them off and just sit back?

A few tips. First, don’t overwhelm yourself with a to-do list. If you sat down and made a list of all of the little “important but not urgent” things that you need to do in your financial life, you’d have a monstrous list.

Give it a try right now in your head for the next minute. Just go through your life and think of all of the stuff that you’d like to get done—that’s important to get done—but it’s not urgent. The finance books and articles you’d like to read. The financial tasks you ought to take care of. The people you should get in touch with. The list will be painfully huge, and it’ll probably seem overwhelming.

Instead, make a short list each day. Instead of deciding that list is overwhelming, break it down. I tackle two or three items on that list every day.

Which ones? If they’re all important and not urgent, it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes, though, one item or another does take precedence – it’s something that needs to be done by all means.

When that daily list is finished, I can sit back without guilt. So, each day I have two or three “important but not urgent” tasks that I should get done—an amount that isn’t overwhelming.

Once they’re done, I’m done. Sure, I have other “important but not urgent” tasks I should get to, but that’s what future days are for. I’ve taken care of what I’ve assigned myself today (which isn’t overwhelming), so I can sit back and play with my children without feeling I’m letting something down. I know it’s all in place.

If it’s a big task, I break it down into little pieces. Big tasks can easily put you off, so I break them down. I don’t have a task like “fix my relationship with business counterpart X,” I instead do something like “write person X an email” or “give person X a phone call.” Usually, the end of such a task is just one part of a bigger puzzle, which needs to be followed through to the end.

I keep a notepad and pen with me almost all the time so I don’t forget those “important but not urgent” tasks when they come to me. “Important but not urgent” tasks pop into my head all the time. I just keep a notepad with me to jot them down as they come to mind. Once a day or so, I go through the things in my notepad and make sure they’re handled.

Sometimes, I’ll just do those things immediately. Other times, I’ll just toss it up on my calendar, adding another thing that needs to get done.

Always remember that procrastination is the mortal enemy of all of the “important but not urgent” things in your life, and often it’s those things that separate the people who get things done and succeed from those who fall behind.

Remember, time is money and so needs to be managed well. Have a blessed weekend!

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