Instead of writing down every thought that comes to mind on your to-do list, break everything down to its smallest tasks. One simple principle to follow is to make sure every item on your to-do list starts with a verb. TUAW editor and contributor Dave Caolo writes in a guest post for Better Mess:
When I started working on this post, the first step was “brainstorm post.” That was all I had to do for the day. Next came, “write outline” and then “review outline.” While “write article” is a daunting task, 15 minutes of brainstorming is not.
Here’s a related tip. Action steps start with a verb. Brainstorm article. Write outline. Call Jane. Charge phone. Invoice Amy. In each example, it’s very clear what needs to be done. “New Hampshire road trip” is a project. “Buy map of New Hampshire” is an action step.
Execution appears much more straightforward when you have a good idea of the next actionable step — and we love action steps.