I’m a big believer in to-do lists. I use one every day for getting things done. If I didn’t, I’d probably get nothing done. I work in an environment that can have some pretty crazy distractions – many of them caused by my son who is disabled, but the rest of the family can be equally distracting!
It’s my fault, really. I was the one who wanted an office in an open space. There’s a back wall and two side walls, but no front wall. From my desk, looking straight ahead, I see the door to my older daughter’s bedroom (a nice arrangement, by the way, as she’s a teenager!), and the stairs. And though I can’t see the other bedroom doors, nobody gets past me coming or going!
But, this also means that everyone stops in to tell me of their latest crisis, or who’s done what to whom. And each distraction gets me out of my “vibe” and it takes me about a good 20 minutes to get back into it.
You know how it is when you’re on roll and really into the work you’re doing – whether it’s writing or making calls or whatever. And when you get interrupted that intrusion makes your mind do a 180. Yeah.
Now try to imagine that happening several times a day. Some days maybe three or four times in an hour. It’s tough. Without my lists I’d be lucky to remember what business I was in let alone what I was doing 10 minutes ago!
But, there’s a downside to lists too. If you’ve ever made out a list I’m sure you can relate. You sit down and think of everything you want to accomplish in your day and before you know it you’ve got 20 items on your list. And some of them are big, time consuming things.
Of course you prioritize putting the most important item at the top, and then the next most important item and so on down the list.
And then you go through your day and begin to check off those items, but by the time you’ve finished lunch you realize that there’s no way you’re going to get to all those things today. And that’s when the stress begins.
After a while I finally got to the point where I just figured that what didn’t get done today could go on tomorrow’s list. But, the problem with that is each day has it’s own things that need to get done. And some of that stuff from yesterday just keeps getting pushed further and further down the list and never gets done.
And let’s face it, when you’re in business even the small stuff matters.
So, I’ve come up with a new strategy. I’m now making smaller lists. Instead of filling my sheet of paper with items to do, I’m only writing down a handful of items.
Today’s list, for example, had just two items on it. There was no stress, no feeling of being overwhelmed or buried by the work I had to get done. Just two items. It was manageable and freeing!
Of course, if I get those two items finished early I can always do more. But seeing just a couple of items on my list was energizing and I was ready to dig right in.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a long to-do list, cut it down. Try filling just half a page instead of a full page. Or, give yourself a limit such as no more than four items on your list. Then, watch your productivity go up!
To your riches!
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