Today we begin Simplify Your Life Week, and I’d like to begin with the to-do list. We’re going to simplify it.
First, we need to get everything we think we need to do out of our heads and onto paper. I use a notebook for this. In fact, I use one notebook for everything. My journal. My ideas. Phone numbers. Reminders. Everything. I don’t like to have multiple pieces of loose paper, because I tend to loose them. In fact, if I do end up with a piece of stray paper with notes on it, I tape the paper into my notebook.
When you dump everything from your brain onto paper, don’t worry about prioritizing your list. Just get it out of your head.
Now that you have the list on paper, it’s time to cull it. Does each task really deserve a spot on your list? Really?
If you’ve had something on your list for a while, and you just can’t seem to get it done, ask yourself these three questions:
- Does this task really need to be completed, or is it there because it’s been there a while, unattended.
- If the task really needs to be accomplished, then can it be delegated to somebody else?
- If no, then break it down into multiple, manageable to-do steps.
Once you have your to-do list winnowed down to what you truly need to do, select 7 or 8 items each day to put on your list for that day. Time is a mitigating factor that will not budge. If you place more things on your list than you can manage for the day, you’ll become overwhelmed and discouraged. If 7 or 8 seem too daunting, cut it down to 4 or 5 items.
If you complete the tasks slated for the day, you can always return to your notebook to see what’s on stand-by. Or you can cut yourself some slack and use that time to breathe.