Most of us do, yet for many the sense of overwhelm is still there, our lives and what we have to do feels too full, and the list just grows. If this sounds familiar, I have some suggestions that might help.
Many years ago, I read an approach by marketing expert Robert Middleton who said he only writes on his daily To Do list the things he actually commits to doing that day. Rarely is his list longer than 5 items.
How does this work, I hear you say, when I have so many more than 5 things to achieve in my day?
Well, often our list is a Wish List rather than a To Do list. It consists of many things, but not all are essential/important. Or there are items on the list that we simply never get round to. It’s a Didn’t Do list rather than a To Do list.
How about a Will Do list? A list that actually works for us, meaning we achieve more, rather than works against us?
The trick is to set yourself up for success rather than failure. It’s too easy to just keep writing, and adding to, a long To Do list, but then we reach the end of the day and half the items haven’t been achieved. Consequence? Your day feels a failure. You are then demotivated, and as a result less efficient and effective. And the list just grows.
Instead, have a go at keeping a ‘master’ To Do list, with all the things you wish or need to do. You can add to this as you go along. Know you have captured all the items there.
Then prioritise this list on a weekly basis, to things that are important or essential for you or your work.
Your daily To Do list is taken from those items. Only include things that are ‘meaty’ – perhaps no more than 2 or 3 total if those things take extended time. Your other administrative type tasks such as emails will fit in between your main tasks.
Schedule those Will Do tasks into your day – either in the order you will do them or against time slots in your diary/calendar. As you complete your tasks, tick them off, or maybe change their highlighting from red to green. This gives a real sense of the achievements you’ve made, rather than the typical ‘crossing off’ of items, which emphasises all the things you haven’t yet done.
If you become distracted, breathe and ask yourself “What’s the best use of my time right now?” The answer may be another item on your list, an ‘easy’ administrative task, or a few minutes break and exercise or food/drink.
Breaks are important to our effectiveness and productivity. The Dalai Lama once said he has 30 minutes of meditation each day, except when he’s very busy, when he meditates for at least 1 hour! All the clients I’ve worked with who built more breaks and ‘me’ or ‘family’ time into their day discovered they got more done rather than less.
At the end of each day, pat yourself on the back for the things you have achieved, and note down your Will Do list for tomorrow.
You will probably find your time management improves, your efficiency improves, your relationships improve and your happiness improves.
Try it and see!