Do you want to know a secret for getting stuff done? It has to do with your calendar and your to-do list. Wait a minute, you might think—I thought you said this was a secret. Everybody knows you need a calendar and to-do list. Hang on, there’s more…
Most of us do use a calendar and to-do list to manage our busy lives. Everybody is different, so they take different forms. You might be a paper-and-pencil kind of girl, a digital-only expert or a combination of the two.
Basically these tools help us make choices, based on our priorities and available time. Out of the million things calling for our attention, what we choose to place in our calendar and on our list reveals what we think is important. In fact, if something is important to you, it should be on the calendar and list of things to get done.
News flash: just because it’s been written down and typed in doesn’t mean it’s going to be done. How often do you carefully write things down and then completely ignore your list after you create it? How’s that working for you? We train ourselves to not take our list seriously so it loses its value as a tool.
Here’s the secret: Don’t be comfortable with stuff that’s not done. So don’t create a list that is twelve miles long.
If you know you can’t get something done, don’t put it on the list. That just reinforces the “oh well” mindset about your to-do list.
Of course you’ve got a ton of stuff to do beyond what you can get done today. But pick the things you can get done and write those down. Don’t fret about what’s not on the list. The rest of it will get done another time, when those items make the “today” list.
Chipping away daily at a small list of things you can get done eventually makes a big dent in the pile. Staring at a gigantic, unrealistic list keeps you frozen in overwhelm. You cease to take a list seriously and become numb to the necessity of doing the things on the list.
Have a place to write down the things swirling in your brain. Then pull “can-do’s” from that list into a “today” list. And today, only look at the “today list.”
There’s your secret. It helps you maintain focus and experience daily small successes when you keep your to-do list short and you take your plan seriously. You’re setting up in your mind an association of your to-do list with success and productivity, and that’s a good thing. Long, overwhelming lists create an association of hopelessness and stress with to-do lists, and that’s not a good thing.
Use your new secret—your short, doable to-do list—to get more stuff done with less stress!
Do you have more tips for a to-do list? Please share…