Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search. Enjoy!
My Secret for Getting Things Done
Today’s post is one that’s been on my mind for a while. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart since it’s truly how I get anything done. I’m not a person who has massive energy (I wish I was) but I’m not.
So how do I work full time, with kids, do a podcast, and also coach working moms in my spare time?
I do this by doing microactions in advance.
I do teeny tiny small things BEFORE they hit crisis proportions.
An Example of Doing Microactions
Last Friday the whole family went to the doctor to get our flu shots. Before we went, I had about 15 minutes of spare time. I knew when we got back, time was going to be tight.
In those 15 minutes, I started baking the brownies I promised my girls I’d make that day. I didn’t do anything big. I only had time to do a few microactions.
- Turned to the recipe in my cookbook
- Took the dry goods out of the cabinet
- Got the pans ready
It turns out that things took much longer at the Doctor’s office than expected (don’t that always happen?!!) Coming home and having just a bit of a head-start on the task helped me 1,000%.
Why Does This Work?
1. inertia. I have a healthy respect for Newton’s first law motion.
An object at rest tends to stay in rest, or if in motion, remains in motion . . . unless acted on by a net external force
I seriously think this law created so long ago, pertains to us this very day.
It’s not magical. Once you get started, it’s easier to keep it going. Even if you started by doing the smallest, simplest action.
In school when I couldn’t bring myself to work on a paper, I would simply do the cover page. Before I knew it, I’d get the energy and motivation I needed to get the whole thing done.
Once you get started, you tend to keep going.
2. Half-done tasks really want to be finished.
There’s something about a half-done task that makes you want to finish it. Even if you started just the tiniest piece of a task, such as setting out a tool you need, the task sits in your mind and wants you to finish it.
For example, I like to set out a rag on the bathroom counter. Talk about micro-actions! I haven’t even cleaned the counter, I just set out the rag. But the simple act of setting out a rag starts the task in my mind. And the task is not done yet! This unfinished task wants me to finish it and stays in my mind until I use that rag and clean the counter.
3. You redefine your identity
When you take small actions, you’re showing yourself the type of person you are.
For example, if you clean even a little you’re redefining yourself as someone who cleans. By creating that identity, it encourages you to keep going.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits writes about Identity-Bases Habits
The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).”– James Clear, Identity-Based Habits
Using Small Actions to be Productive
We now know that doing small actions can get us to do more actions, but how do we tie this to be productive and get stuff done?
Wake up earlier. Just kidding. Isn’t this the silliest suggestion in the world? We’re already short on sleep. But this what a google search will tell you to do….
Instead, do a microaction. An action so small that it feels too easy.
Turn this into a habit. You can write it down if you want.
It’ll feel so simple that it’s almost impossible NOT to do it.
Examples of Micro-actions
- Put a rag in bathroom → cleaning the counter
- Take the top off the diffuser → leads to cleaning it and filling it.
- Turn on spotify playlist that you usually listen to when journaling → journaling
- Put a dirty load of laundry in the living room at night → do laundry the next day
- Set out a glass of water the night before → hydrating first thing in the morning
Think of the own micro-actions that you can do.
Micro-actions are not the kind of thing someone else can suggest for you. You know the things you struggle with better than anyone else. You also know what would be easy for you to do as a micro-action (such as putting a rag on the counter).
Today, think of a micro-action you can do that’ll help you with something you’ve been struggling with.
- Around the house?
Pick one area and choose a micro-action.
You can even get the family involved. For example, a micro-action that my husband does for me is on weekends, he puts the remote in my bed so as soon as I wake up, I can do a Yoga video on YouTube.
Don’t underestimate the power of the tiniest action.
Wishing you so much success with your micro-actions!