Dive into your task list with a monthly AFD (Action-Focused Day)

Planning is absolutely essential. But you can’t stop there.

If you’re spending too much time making and organizing your lists and notes rather than taking action to check those things off, here’s a way to reset on a regular basis:


The technique is simple, and you’d do well to make room in your schedule for one of these every month:

Take one day a month and don’t add anything to your lists. Don’t redo them. Just keeping doing, and doing, and doing, so you can check as many things off of your enormous to-do list as you can. This is a day that is all about volume, not triage or priorities. There is something exhilarating about plowing through a whole pile of little tasks, knocking each one down and going straight to the next one. At the end of such a day, you can sit back and have a little glass of something celebratory, knowing that you’ve absolutely earned it.

The whole idea is to take a break from the pressure of trying to do the right things in the right order, and just DO THINGS. Check everything off your list that you can. Find the little stuff that never seems important enough to move up the list, but is still too important to just drop. Plow through them. And be sure to pick a few things you never seem to have time for because they might seem frivolous or too much fun.

Keep it real

Avoid things like “post to social media” and “go shopping”, as those are both too non-specific and will throw you into activities that are never-ending. Don’t get stuck in a huge sea of vagueness. Focus on taking action, over and over again, getting as many individual, achievable tasks done as possible. Today is all about volume and momentum. But it’s also about clearing the decks so you can focus on bigger things tomorrow, without the drone of Task Overload ringing in your ears.

You don’t need anything special. That’s the point. We’ve prepped this downloadable infographic that you can print and stick to the wall if you want. But other than that, just get in there.

We give you full permission to…

  • Write things down after the fact, i.e. do something and then add it to a “Done” list, so you can see your glorious results at the end of the day.
  • Celebrate every little thing you got done. (Dance breaks!!!)
  • Take breaks, so you don’t wear out too soon. This is a terrific day to try out the Pomodoro method, where you focus for 25 minutes and then rest for 5… Use an egg timer or whatever time app you have on your phone.. (There are even Pomodoro apps worth checking out, but don’t get stuck digging through the App Store — that’s probably not already on your list!)
  • Schedule your next AFD for next month, but then attach nothing to it. Don’t try to save up for that day — just tackle your lists as they are at that time, and keep doing manageable things, all day long.

Mental bonus

There’s something about this exercise that allows your subconscious to come out, and you’ll find yourself thinking about things you’ve been avoiding or worried about. It’s as if those thoughts are no longer bludgeoned by the noise of the all those to-dos, and your mind can revel in the quiet rhythm that you’ll find in going from one thing, to another, to another.

Congrats on taking a major leap forward!

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