It’s easy to cause ourselves troubles. How many stories involve a protagonist making it hard on themselves? One of my favorites is Homer Simpson.


Unfortunately, we can easily do the same to ourselves.

The simple task is a good example. A task might appear to be just a bunch of words reminding us to do something. Scrawl a few ideas to jog our memory and that’s enough, right?

Unfortunately, just writing a few thoughts leaves us with desires for avoidance, forgotten ideas, and messes to clean.

Tasks Are Invitations

We can get much further by realizing that a task is an invitation. The more clearly we can invite ourselves into the work, the more readily we might actually do it.

A few considerations are to:

  • Remember that you are delegating the task to someone else, a Future Self. By imagining that person, you are better able to care for them.
  • Start tasks with a verb. Doing so helps reduce friction by minimizing the thought process of “What do I do with this?”
  • Keep in mind the nature and number of any other tasks on the list you’re adding it to. Doing so helps prevent the tasks from drowning each other out.
  • Line up tools and reference materials so they are in easy reach when you see the task.

Certainly, there are other possibilities. The better you can envision the state you will be in when you see the task, the more likely you’ll be able to set yourself up for success when it comes time to do it.

Knowledge vs Skill

It’s all well and good to know these ideas. The question then is how and when can we practice them?

And of course, there are many other places in a system that can improve with exercise. Examples include how to:

  • Choose a focus and return when wandering off
  • Prepare yourself to start something well
  • Prepare yourself to wrap something up even if you’re not done
  • Prepare yourself to stay with something that is difficult
  • Engage habits and lists with regularity
  • Approach an Inbox with greater confidence

These are all components of the upcoming course Rhythms of Focus – Guiding the Wandering Mind. If you’ve already signed up to learn more as the date comes, you’ll be getting more of these emails. If not, . You’ll see a quick survey where you can optionally express any interests of what you’d like to learn.

In the meantime, consider these posts on the subject of writing tasks: