One of the biggest general obstacles to productivity is the idea of “doability”. Goals, dreams, and tasks become interchangeable to a point that the average to do list is too vague and extremely hard to take action on.
If you’ve read any books on productivity, you know that this is the underpinning of most systems. Finding a way to generate actionable, “doable” tasks that can be completed in a finite period of time.
“Build a website” is not an actionable task. It is a goal, possibly a milestone. If I were to ask you exactly how long it would take to build a website, or what was involved, you could easily break it down into ten, twenty or thirty more tasks.
Sure some people can see “build a website” as actionable – probably because they’ve built hundreds of them and could do it in their sleep.
Personally, I see “write an eBook” as an actionable task, but for most people it’s overwhelming. So we break it down.
How to Make Actionable Tasks
Whenever you jot something down on your to do list, ask this question, “can I complete this in a finite period of time”?
Specifically, can you put a timeframe on that task for completion. For most people, a website or eBook would require a lot of trial and error, checking with clients, etc. So it needs to be broken down into actionable tasks. Here are some examples:
Goal: Write an eBook
- Perform initial research on eBook topic
- Create an outline of the eBook and submit for approval
- Revise outline and develop a sample chapter
- Create a working outline
- Purchase research materials and start taking notes for composition
- Write the initial draft of the eBook (this alone may require multiple additional tasks)
- Edit first draft
- Add images and format first draft
- Submit first draft for client review
- Revise first draft based on client review
The list could be longer – a lot longer depending on the scope of the eBook. It takes me roughly a month to write a 150 page eBook. As you can imagine, there are a lot of tasks involved in doing so and even if I don’t write them down, I have them broken down carefully in my mind so know the exact order in which to do them.
Making Your Next Project Actionable
Whether it’s for a client and you need to know exactly how long it will take or you are preparing to build a new website for yourself, the more actionable you can make a list of tasks, the easier it is to take action on them.
The enormity of something like “build a website’ is overwhelming for most people. But “write a bio for my website” is much more manageable. You can imagine doing it, finishing it and uploading it. Create as many of these “micro” tasks as you can and any process becomes easier to map out.