By Leo Babauta

It’s almost time to start our May challenge, Dive Into Important Tasks (we start Monday!) … so let’s look at what you need to know to start Week 1.

This week, it’s about exploring what a meaningful task is and how to choose from your long todo list, and how to get started on it instead of putting it off.

The instruction for Week 1 is: Pick 1 meaningful task a day and do 10 minutes of it first thing in the morning (or whenever you start working).

So let’s break it down.

Choosing a Meaningful Task

First of all, do we have to do the same important task every day of the week? Like write my book or focus on my taxes? Not at all — you can pick a completely different task every day of the week, as long as it’s important and meaningful.

Here’s how to choose a task:

  1. Look at your todo list, your email inbox, your open browser tabs — anywhere you might have your tasks. Get an idea of what your possibilities are. Avoid trying to do them all right now, or feeling overwhelmed by them all — you’re just looking for one to do right now.
  2. Feel into which ones are most meaningful. Which ones feel like they’ll move you closer to having a positive impact on the world? Which do you know you should be doing but have been putting off? Which will have a positive impact on the lives of others, on your business or career, on your health or finances? You can make a list of 3-5 important items if that’s helpful. Or maybe just one stands out.
  3. Look at your short list of important task and feel into which to do today. If you have several good candidates to choose from, don’t let yourself be paralyzed by indecision! Close your eyes, breathe, and let your gut decide (or your heart). Which feels most important, most meaningful? Don’t let fear decide. You only have to do 10 minutes of it.

If you absolutely can’t decide, pick randomly. Or pick the one you’re dreading the most! The idea is to not get stuck on this but just to dive in and choose.

Pro Tip: Pick your task the evening before, so you don’t have to spend any time choosing in the morning.

How to Get Started on the Task

So you’re armed with your important, meaningful task … now what? We’re going to do something called a focus session, and you only have to do it for 10 minutes.

I recommend doing this session when you first start working. Before you get into checking your favorite sites online or looking at your favorite social media or checking your email and messages.

Here’s how the focus session works:

  1. Clear a space to work on the task. If it’s on the computer, close everything but the app you need (a writing app, for example) or the tab that you need for the task. No other distractions. If you can, turn off your internet connection. Make this a sacred space for this one important task — it’s worth giving your full focus.
  2. Set a timer. Just 10 minutes. Optional: play some music.
  3. Dive into the task. You might notice that you have an urge to go do anything else. Notice the urge, let yourself feel it, but don’t let yourself out of this sacred space. It’s training. Instead, form the new habit of Diving In. Just get started with the smallest motion. Just write a few words. Just start, with as small an action as you can.
  4. Notice the urge to switch, but don’t act on it. For the next 10 minutes, you might have multiple urges to go do something else. To check on something. It’s OK to have those urges. But instead of following those habitual responses to uncertainty, start to shift them by feeling the urge in your body … but not doing anything about it. Stay in this space. Hold your ground. Now dive back into the task, because it’s meaningful enough for you to stay in the discomfort of your uncertainty.
  5. When the timer goes off, bow in gratitude. You can actually keep working if you’re in a groove and feel like continuing … but you absolutely don’t have to. Whenever you stop, give yourself a bow of gratitude for your victory! Check the task off your todo list if you finished it, but it’s OK if you didn’t finish. You can work on it soon, or tomorrow.

This week isn’t about being perfect at this, but exploring this method and seeing what comes up, so that we can work on that.

Dive in this coming week!