Quick wins and the Quick Win Hour

Find a few things on your To Do list that won’t take a lot of time and do them. They’re quick wins because without much time and probably without much effort, you’ve knocked some stuff off your list.

It’s like taking baby steps or building up to doing something big except these things were real and they needed to be done so you’ve built up usefully. The sense you have that you’re on your way, you’re getting things sorted out, is real because it is real.

You can’t just do the quick stuff, you have to buckle down to the difficult and the long, but knocking off a few fast tasks is a good way to get yourself started on those.

Some To Do software including OmniFocus lets you say how long you think a task will take. I have never used this. I never will. I just think the time I spend working out time I’ll spend on a task is time I could be spending doing the task. Nonetheless, if you like doing this or it feels more natural to you than it does to me, you can assign approximate times to any or all of your tasks – and then choose to see a list of all those taking 10 minutes or less.

There are also To Do apps that let you assign an energy level to a task. I don’t even know if my OmniFocus does this because I’m not sure where to look. But if your To Do app does this, you could get it show you all the tasks that don’t need much oomph from you. All the ten minute tasks that you can do in your sleep: that’s a To Do list you can knock through quickly.

One thing I do often do is a Quick Win Hour. Take a moment to find ten things on your list or make up ten new things. Whichever it is, you do ten and you do that very, very quickly. Then you set a timer on your phone for one hour and you do all ten.

I’ve done this perhaps half a dozen times over the last two years and only once did I ever complete all ten within the time but, grief, it was close every other time. And despite or maybe because of my being so focused on the ten and the hour, I didn’t really register that each time I was getting up to ten things done off my list.

The thirty-minute quick win

When I say go, I’m going to set a timer for thirty minutes and make a pitch. I don’t know what yet. But a friend has sent me a bundle of things that are so interesting, I want to do them all. And I’ve felt a bit blinded by which to pitch to first. Plus I’ve been a wee bit busy. So the result is that I’ve had the list for few days now and nothing is happening.

Let’s make something happen. Especially as today was a rubbish day. Got barely anything done and if I can whack out a pitch now, in front of you, I’ll feel better. I like feeling better.

So, here goes:

ME: Set a timer, thirty minutes
SIRI: Okay, your timer is set for thirty minutes. Remember, a watched iPhone never boils.

(It really said that.)


And… stop.

With 15 minutes and 28 seconds to go, I’m done. Read the pitch list, found one I fancied – it didn’t have to be the best, it just had to be there and be one I liked. No selection, or at least as little selection as I could manage. (There was one about poetry, for instance. Nice opportunity, lovely idea, completely outside my capabilities. So I moved on. But only a bit.)

Read the detail, did a swift email to them, gone.

And it worked, I feel better.