Procrastination Tip: Next Action

If you have a “B” task that you have been putting off (read here to find out what a “B” task is) try asking yourself what the “next action” required is.

Your answer should be one small, specific action. For example, if you have been putting off completing your tax return, you might identify that the “next action” you need to do is to print off your bank statements from your internet banking.

You can then elevate that next action to “A” task status – something that needs to be done today or in the next few days.

Sometimes its too overwhelming to think about all the steps involved in a task. If this is the case, just identify the next action.

You may realize that what you think is the next action required, is not in fact the next action required. For example, you realize that you have forgotten your internet banking password so calling the bank for a temporary password is the actual next action required. If this happens, just edit your next action to reflect your new thought.

Sometimes people find it useful to go through all of their procrastinated tasks, and identify the next action required for each of them. You could do this once a week as part of a weekly review. But, I usually just identify the next action required for whatever “B” task I am making a priority on a particular day.

Note that your “B” tasks are likely to be bigger/more important tasks than your “A” tasks, because, by definition, your “B” tasks are the things that are going to take a longer period of time than your “A” tasks, which are just what you need to get done in the next few days. “A” tasks will include things like “get petrol” and “put new lightbulb in the dining room” whereas “B” tasks tend to be bigger projects.

It can be tempting to put whole “B” tasks on your “A” tasks list to try to create a sense of urgency, but if you do that you’re likely to end up with too many “A” tasks, and tasks that you can’t realistically get done in the next few days. If you have been putting something off, put the next action required for that task on your “A tasks” list.