Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How To Get Your To-Do List Done

It's no secret that I'm a fan of to-do lists.

I just find that I'm more productive and focused when I've got a to-do list to keep me on track. Looking back over the last couple of years, when I've neglected my to-do list, I seem to start drifting aimlessly and tend to waste a lot of precious time.

I've worked out a little system that ensures my to-do list is helping me work towards my goals, and doesn't become yet another bit of paper lying around.

Here's what works for me:

1. Set regular time aside to create your list. I usually work off a weekly to-do list. I tried daily to-do lists but usually over-estimated what I could achieve in a day, and ended up losing motivation. Any longer than a week and motivation also flags, since long deadlines seem to encourage procrastination and lack of focus.

Sunday evenings are my time to reflect on my life, my goals and what I hope to get done in the next week. I really look forward to this time, when I can focus on where my life is heading, what I want to achieve and be in this life, and most importantly, how I can get there.

I start out by jotting down all the things I already have planned or organized for the week, such as "Judah's birthday on Wednesday" or "School interview 9am Tues etc, then I figure out what I can reasonably expect to get done during that week.

2. Write it down properly. I keep a big A4 notebook. In the front, it has inspiring quotes and thoughts to uplift me. Each week, I write a to-do list on one page (it doesn't usually take up a whole page), and the opposite page I gradually fill in with ideas or bits of information that I want to remember, such as phone numbers or products and prices. 

I've never been able to get excited about computerized or internet to-do lists. Call me old-fashioned, but I just like the immediacy and accessibility of pen on paper.

3. Check it often. I check my to-to list daily, to make sure I'm on track and remind myself to keep aiming for my goals.

4. Break big tasks down into smaller steps. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I tick another item off my to-do list. It motivates me to stay on track and keep working towards what I want. Bearing this in mine, I give myself plenty chances to experience that feeling!

For example, rather than putting "Finish writing e-book" on my to-do list, I write "Finish Chapter 3 of e-book". Yes, I learned that one from experience! "Finish writing e-book" got rolled over onto next week's list about 3 times before I realized it might never happen if I didn't change something.

5 Remember what's important and what is the most effective use of your time. A to-do list should reflect our values and our goals. Keeping a to-do list for the sake of being busy is really a form of procrastination. Do what matters and choose effective over efficient.

6. Mix it up. This one may not work for everyone, but it works for me. I tend to mix it up a bit when I'm making a to-do list. Some items on there are quick and easy and may only take 15 minutes to complete (like checking ticket prices or paying a bill) while others are more time-consuming and have to be broken down into steps.

On any given day, I might aim to tick off 1-3 items from my list, depending on what they are. The trick is not to choose all the quick easy ones first and put off the more tiring or annoying ones until the last day of the week, because they'll probably just turn up again on next week's list!

I also add items from different areas of my life, it's not all business! My to-do list might range from "Follow up kit-home leads" to "Wax legs". I can glance at my to-do list and choose what's going to work in with other things that are happening on that day. I realize this may not work for everyone, but it's how I like to do it.

7. Know when "good" is good enough. Okay, I admit it. I've now edited this article three times since I hit "Publish". I'm not a perfectionist, really I'm not! Anybody who has watched me cook with joyful abandon and a distinct lack of measuring devices already knows this. I just seem to have this inbuilt tendency to accept nothing but my very best at all times.

Which is all wonderful, but we must remember not to make perfect the enemy of the good. In the words of Neale Donald Walsh (Or was it God's words? I can't remember): Perfection is the obstacle of creation and enemy of achievement. At some point you've got to say "This is good. And this is enough". If you cannot do this, you will never get anything done - and that is the opposite of what you want, is it not?

PS. In other exciting news, my e-book "The 7 Habits of Someone Who Never Gets Sick" will be available by the end of the week. I'm super excited to share some of my most cherished health secrets with you and hear how it transforms your life!

You Might Also Like:
How To Turn Your Big Crazy Idea Into Reality (Part 1)
There Is No Magic Pill...And That's a Good Thing
The One Simple Habit That Changed My Life

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