Do-Everything Day

One of the secrets to my success at work is the Do-Everything Day. On a Do-Everything Day you do everything, for at least five minutes. I make a list of any project I have that has outstanding tasks. Being a lawyer, I have some projects where I’m just waiting on a decision from court, or on a call back from a client, so there are no outstanding tasks. The rest of the projects get written down.

Then I set a timer for five minutes, and start on the first project.  Once the timer goes off, I move to the next project.  After I’ve finished five minutes of each project, I take a break, and then go for 10 minutes of each project, then 15, then 20. Some projects drop off the list as all outstanding tasks are completed. The list gets shorter as the day goes on.

It’s always amazing how tasks I’d been avoiding turn out to be much less scary than I thought. It’s a great anti-procrastination tool. So much of my procrastination is fear of getting started. Knowing that I only have to do five minutes of work reduces a lot of that fear, and once I’ve started on the project, I’m much less likely to procrastinate.

It’s also amazing how many tasks can be FINISHED in five or ten minutes! After a Do-Everything Day, my list of projects with outstanding tasks usually is reduced in half. I’m left with big, long-term projects, which I can tackle in subsequent days knowing that no small tasks are overdue.  I usually have one project as “organize office” or something, so I can take some time to sort emails, clear my outbox, and organize files for the week.

I try to have a Do-Everything Day once a week, but it doesn’t always happen. I haven’t had one in a while, and I got quite overwhelmed today. I had a bunch of urgent things to do in the morning, and then after lunch I started a Do-Everything Afternoon. I completed some quick tasks, got started on some things I’d been avoiding, and made sure that I touched every project I have and moved it along.

I highly recommend the Do-Everything Day.