5 Strategies for Tackling Your To-Do List – If you have a long list and have trouble marking things off, implement these 5 strategies to get more done!
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David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done, coined the phrase, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” It makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? So, why is it that we continue to add more and more to our to-do lists, but don’t accomplish even half of what we’re putting on it?
Did you know that 41% of tasks put on to-do lists never get done? It’s true. And you know why? Because we don’t take action. And why aren’t we taking action? Simple. Because we’re overwhelmed. And why are we overwhelmed?
Because we’re trying to do too much.
Period. End of story. Mic drop.
End the Overwhelm
It’s not our to-do lists that are overwhelming us. It’s what’s going on in our heads. Constantly “thinking” and obsessing about everything that we need to do and should do produces mental stress that can eventually paralyze us and prevent us from taking any action at all if we don’t know how to manage it.
The first step to conquering the overwhelm is getting everything out of your head and onto paper. After you’ve done a “brain dump” of everything you can possibly think of that you need or want to do, follow these 5 strategies for tackling your to-do list:
#1 – Prioritize your tasks.
I usually use the ABC letter system to prioritize:
A = Must Do
B = Should Do
C = Would Like to Do
Put either an A, B or C next to each of the tasks. Your A tasks are the most urgent and important tasks you should accomplish that day. It’s a good practice to remember to never have more than 2-3 tasks on your “Must Do” list. If you add too many A tasks, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Limit most important tasks to no more than 2-3 on your daily to-do list.
#2 – Assign a time frame to your tasks.
Blocking out time for tasks is important but it can also be an inhibitor to how much we get done. Because we’re human and we don’t want to fail we normally set aside more time than necessary to get something done. If you’re familiar with Parkinson’s Law, it states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
For example, if you give yourself a week to accomplish something, you’re going to take the whole week to get it done. Try experimenting with shorter time frames. If you’d normally give yourself 30 minutes to check email in the morning, give yourself 5. You’ll be shocked at how much more you’ll accomplish with tighter deadlines.
#3 – Eliminate distraction.
Easier said than done, I know. But this one is SO very important. You need to resist the temptation to work on anything else until your task is complete. That means letting the phone go to voicemail, shutting down your email, logging out of social media and doing whatever you have to do to focus on the task at hand.
These days we suffer from chronic FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). What if we miss that text? What if we don’t see that sale? What if Bachelor doesn’t record? LOL You get what I mean. Just think about what we’ve become? All I’m saying, is you need to shut everything off – temporarily – so you can focus. Because guess what? Once we get distracted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to your original task. Can you afford wasting all of that time? I know I can’t.
#4 – Review your list at the end of the day.
So, what did you really accomplish? Remove tasks you completed for the day, add anything new that’s come up and then re-prioritize each day so you’re ready for tomorrow. I’ve read way too many articles that recommend planning for your day in the morning. No. No. No. You need to have everything in place the evening before. Trust me. You’re going to get so much more done.
#5 – Celebrate small wins.
It’s okay to reward yourself for doing a good job – and you should! When you mark tasks off your to-do list (especially those “A” tasks), you should celebrate. Little rewards are what keep me motivated and focused. Some of my past rewards have been a new planner, book or set of pens.
As long as we’re talking rewards, planners and the like, I just need to share with you the planner that I use to stay focused and organized every day – the Living Well Planner®!
It’s perfect for the implementing the strategies we just discussed and it does a great job of keeping you on track to meeting and even exceeding your goals.
This planner is BEAUTIFUL and I promise you it will be a game changer for you. This isn’t just a day planner, it’s a life planner with room to record your goals and ambitions alongside your budget, meal plans and important dates.
It’s everything you need all in one place, and a great first step to planning and achieving a life you love. If you’re feeling a bit stuck right now and unhappy with your level of productivity, you need to check it out!
Are you ready to get more done?