Sometimes, getting started is just tough. The sheer volume of things to do can be overwhelming. It’s all too easy to make some tasks a much bigger deal than they really are, which can make us fail to start out of an anticipated sense of exhaustion. This can keep us from committing to our goals and projects. This challenge has often dogged my steps, all my life.

Years ago, I realized a key step to setting my plans in motion. Teeing off my tasks with whatever delegation was required proved the most effective beginning. Being a people-motivated person, that sense of now shared responsibility was the perfect kick in the rear to follow through. Sometimes this involved reframing a task, and other times it involved a different benchmark. Instead of “get an oil change,” for example, I now assign myself “make oil change appointment.” Showing up to an appointment is easy enough, but setting it is the “delegation” step that sets it in motion. “Create training guide,” is a big project, but “set meeting with process supervisor” is the best entry into a long series of tasks.

I suppose this isn’t necessarily pure delegation. Delegation typically involves outright assigning someone with a task that used to be yours. My process is more about taking whatever ball needs to make it through the goal, and passing it into someone else’s court. As a result of it, they can work their magic before passing it back for my turn.

The issue with this? There might be a lot of people holding my balls! This made it all too easy for me to lose track of who was holding what ball. Enter…

The Waiting List.

The waiting list is a list of things that I must monitor on an ongoing basis. It’s a list of things that I’m waiting for some kind of response about. It helps me to keep track of all the things I need from the people and groups I’m fortunate enough to get to serve, be served by, and work alongside.

Each week, I create a section in my planner containing the things that require my follow-up. I begin the list by recording items from the previous week which require monitoring. That maybe includes a phone call made at close of business Friday or a social invitation I’ve yet to receive. Throughout the week, any “delegated” tasks go there as well. If I reach out to someone to initiate a collaborative project, request they do something, or any number of other tasks that require some sort of response or completed action, it goes on the waiting list.

Keeping this list separated from the other dimensions in my life, my daily assignments, as well as my events/appointments helps drastically. As a result, I’m better able to monitor progress and hold myself accountable to the things I set in motion. Call it a waiting list, a follow-up list, or whatever makes most sense to you. I’d love to hear how it changes your productivity!

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