Overwhelmed by the Little Things: Tips for Tackling the Overload of ‘Odds and Sods’ Tasks

Updated: May 5

Dawn O’Connor founded Focus Bubbles to help people come together and try working in a new way, based on the brain science of effective planning, intention setting and gentle accountability. Dawn has over 30 years of productivity training experience with approximately 10,000 clients. Do you want to achieve your productivity best? Contact Dawn at dawn@dawnocconor.ca.

There is an entire class of tasks we tend to put off simply because they are small, avoidable and usually a little bit annoying. Oddly enough, these tend to be the tasks that keep our businesses running, like invoicing and following up on sales inquires.


The trouble with these teeny tasks is they tend to build up over time and turn into an overwhelming amount of work. That one invoice that needed to be sent out yesterday turns into many as the backlog of invoicing grows from a week to months.

In the Focus Bubble community, we call these “Odds and Sods” tasks and many of our participants dedicate one session a week to tackling these pesky problems before they turn into an overwhelming workload.


Tips for Tackling Odds and Sods Tasks


Include Time Estimates for Each Task – Sometimes we imagine things are far bigger and more time-consuming than they actually are. Attach a time estimate to each task or task grouping to put the problem in perspective.


Stay Near-Future Focused – Don’t try to tackle tasks for the far-off future. Stick with near-term tasks that have an immediate impact to give their completion a sense of urgency. The added benefit is completing them will likely net you results right away for more positive feedback.


Batch Process - The reason these irritating tasks fall off the list is they are small enough to be avoidable and annoying enough to undesirable. One Focus Bubble participant described them as “scratchy” tasks. It seems silly to schedule time in your calendar to tackle one 5-minute task so bundle them together in a single bubble session for maximum efficiency.


Set Strict Time Limits – Only have one bundle of odds and sods? Slot them into a single session. Got lots? Maybe spread them out over two sessions or sign up for a longer bubble. The trick is setting a time limit so they can’t expand beyond the borders of a bubble (because they will if you let them).


Use the Power of Peer Pressure – Everyone hates administrative tasks, like bookkeeping or proposal writing, but they are essential to the success of our businesses. Use the accountability aspect of a bubble to get them done (and enjoy a little camaraderie along the way).


Attach a Concrete Deadline – When we put off tasks, especially if they are core must-do tasks, we will think about them until they are done. These deferred decisions and incomplete tasks start building up in your mind, turning into a costly mental distraction (sometimes using up more energy worrying about them than it would take to get them done). Cross them off the list and get them out of your head!


When You Start, FINISH – Don’t half start only to put them aside for another day. Not only does this cost you extra time and effort getting back on task, but if you leave it long enough, your efforts could unravel and you’ll simply have to start again.


Make It Fun With Friends – Save your yuckiest tasks for a Focus Bubble so you can benefit from the community enthusiasm for ticking to-dos off your list. Sometimes all it takes is a little boost from the group to push through on a challenging task.


Start Small and Add – Aim to tackle only what you can write on a small Post-IT note instead of giving yourself an endless laundry list of to-dos. That way you feel positive about your accomplishment instead of deflated by the tasks you need to carry over until tomorrow.


Remember, all it takes to master these troublesome to-dos is a shift in perspective. Join a Focus Bubble today for more time-saving tips and the community accountability to get them done!