To-do lists differ as much as the characters to which they belong to. Some are digital, planned to the minute, others are scattered with wild exclamation marks and a rainbow of highlights, and then there’s the lists which are mostly a smug-looking array of already finished tasks.
But the one thing all of our lists have in common? Their ability to strike instant overwhelm in our (excessively racing) hearts. No matter how hard we try; despite hours of overtime and several litres of coffee, the reality is that it’s often just not possible to get everything done. We’re all guilty of over-promising, and the thought that we could fail - or merely reach anything less than perfection – is anxiety-inducing to say the least. But what if we told you could finish work on Friday afternoon feeling accomplished, without anything being taken away from your unrelenting workload?
Keep A Daily To Do List & A Brain Dump List
When your mind is racing, writing it all out in a brain dump is a great way to regain some mental clarity. But having every single idea or thought on your to-do list is only going to lead to overwhelm. Try keeping separate lists. One for ideas to explore, one for tasks to do, and a daily list. This way it’ll be clear what needs to be done, and what can wait until next week.
The key to mastering your list? Assessing your priorities. What tasks on your list are essential – do they produce key revenue, boost a partnership or push the business forward in the right direction? Pick the most important tasks and keep those on your daily to-do list, leaving other, less-essential tasks on longer term lists for when you have the time. Even if everything seems important, you still need to assess the “urgent” tasks and rate them in immediacy. It’ll be so much easier to see what’s urgent and what’s not and will help you avoid that “I can’t do everything” panic.
Don’t load your daily to do list with 20 things that simply can’t be done within the 8 or 9 hours in your day. Think about how long tasks will take, and when will be best for you to achieve them. It can also be helpful to try breaking up big jobs into smaller, achievable steps.
Keep It Old School with Paper & Pen
In our paper-less world, digital rules all. But going between your to-do list, to emails, to your calendar to all your other apps is simply exhausting… and comes with easy distraction just a swipe away! Turn off your phone and gain some mental clarity by jotting it down in an old school notebook.
Schedule in Breaks
Similarly, to keeping things realistic, don’t expect yourself to be superhuman. No-one can concentrate wholeheartedly for 9 hours straight. Schedule time to take a break into your day, be that a 10-minute coffee run or half an hour mid-afternoon to get some fresh air. It’ll make you more productive in the long run and will mean your whole day won’t go out of whack when you need a loo break.
Create a Done List
Some may roll their eyes at this last tip, but for many of us, the endless list of things to do is simply discouraging and defeating. It’s easy to look at the tasks still to do at the end of the day and feel like you’ve accomplished nothing, when in reality you’ve made great progress!
Add a done section to you daily to do list to reaffirm that you really did get sh*t done today, no matter what you have left to do! It’ll give you a boost of motivation to celebrate what you’ve achieved!