Got a pebble in your shoe?

If you’re going on a day-long hike and, right at the outset, you find a pebble in your shoe, what do you do?

You don’t say, “I have to do the hardest task first—I’m going to finish this hike and remove the pebble after”.

No, you take off your shoe, give it a good shake until the pebble drops to the ground, you put your shoe back on, and you continue walking.

When it comes to completing our biggest, most important tasks, we’re told to eat that frog, to fill our jar with big rocks first, to identify our Most Important Thing, and so on.

Willpower your way through stuff!!!

Here’s a different approach:

Remove all the pebbles from your shoe first.

I hereby give you permission to put the “most important thing” on hold for today and to reply to that important email from 30 days ago. To file your tax return. To clip your nails, stock up on pet food, fill out your time sheet, and send those invoices.

If this takes a few hours, so be it. In fact, treat yourself to an entire day of blasting through all of those irritating tasks that you’ve been ignoring. Turn it into a game: how many can you check off by sunset?

I like to go through my to-do lists and to assign every single pebble to “today”. Then I love watching that “today” list shrink, shrink, and shrink some more as the day passes. Can I finish every single task on the list? Usually not! But I almost always feel very satisfied with my productivity by the end of the day.

Remember this: when you ignore a pebble in your shoe for too long, it starts to feel like a huge rock, hurting you with every single step. But it isn’t a huge rock. Once you shake out your shoe, you see that the pebble is tiny.

You’ll be surprised by how many “pebbles in your shoe” you can take care of when you allow yourself to focus on them. And you’ll find that they’re not nearly as daunting or time-consuming to deal with as you were afraid of.

Take care of the little things, enjoy the feeling of being more-or-less on top of things again, and get back to tackling the hard stuff tomorrow with a fresh mind—and comfortable, friction-free shoes.

Watch: How I Use Things 3 to Get Stuff Done

Things 3 has the best UI and design of any to-do list app out there. It’s a joy to use its intuitive scheduling and organization systems.

If you’re looking for an almost frictionless way to get organized and be more productive, Things 3 is for you. Here’s how I use it to get stuff done.

(Note: Things is only available on Apple devices. And another note: I am not affiliated with Things and do not receive a commission for recommending the app. I wish I would get a commission… 😉)

Peter Akkies

Hi, I’m Peter from Amsterdam. I’ll help you get organized and be more productive. Every Sunday, I send a productivity-themed newsletter to 10,000 people. Join us!

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