Are you tried of just listing everything you need to get done, then feeling overwhelmed and ending up not accomplishing anything on that list? Sometimes a change in perspective or technique can make all the difference. So let’s do a To-Do List Trim Down and learn about five different ways to look at making your to-do list:
1. Unresolutions: What do you resolve NOT to do this year? What activities are you doing that are sucking your energy? What do you do that brings down your mood? Whatever it is, resolve to not do it this year or at least cut back how much you have to do it. Instead of just making a list of resolutions and focusing on trying to do those things, switching to cutting back on what negative stuff can help put you in the right mindset every day.
2. Top Three a Day: When making a list of what you need to do, it can quickly grow and grow and grow. One thing I know a lot of people recommend (and that I find especially helpful) is to limit your list to the top three things you need to get done today. Whether it be writing an article, making a phone call or going grocery shopping, make a list of your top three and focus on them. Once they are done, then you can move on to other projects, but only after those three are done first.
3. Work, Home & Personal Categories: These three categories represent the three main parts of life for most people. The point is to write down your to-do list each day incorporating each of these categories, thus helping to keep one category from overwhelming the rest (work taking priority over everything is what often happens to people). Work can include your writing work, clients, phone calls, etc. Home can include cleaning tasks, meal preparation and home renovation. Personal can include reading a book, going for a run or visiting with friends.
4. Week by Week: Instead of focusing on what you need to do each day, one technique you can do is to make a list of the ten things you need to get done this WEEK, then schedule things based on those ten. The reason why this works is it takes you away from worrying about trying to get everything you need to get done in just one day. Maybe you will have a super productive day and cross several things off your list or maybe something will come up and you have to completely forget about getting your top ten done for one day. Weekly goals help you get better control and view over what you need to do, without overwhelming each day of your life.
5. Eat The Frog: This is an interesting name for basically ‘get your One Big Thing done first thing in the day’. The principal is that you get that one big thing done first, the thing that you are dreading and keep putting off ( you know what thing I’m talking about) and once it’s done, the rest of your day feels easier because you accomplished the hardest task of the day first. I implemented this with calling clients or writing the rough draft for an article or setting up a super technical part of my blog. Once its done, then I feel very productive. Even if the rest of the day gets a little crazy, I know that my one big thing is done. For more information, here is a helpful article explaining this idea even more: The Truth About Frogs.
Bonus tip! Do you like to use apps on your phone? Any computer programs? Or do you prefer just a regular sheet of paper and a pen? Sometimes how we actually write out our to-do lists can affect what we actually do. So find what works for you or try something new.
Now, this list may seem overwhelming and you might be thinking ‘which one do I implement?’ I suggest you pick one and try it out for a little while, then switch to another and try it for a little while, eventually going through all five.
Depending on the season of my life and my workload, I will switch between all of them. Sometimes the Top Three a Day is what helps me when my life is busy. Other times I have to just do a Week by Week program because my schedule changes every day. When life is not as hectic, Work, Home & Personal Categories help me find balance with all facets of my life. And overall I try to focus on Unresolutions and cutting back on the energy sucks in my life, and with Eat The Frog I get past all the things I struggle with and set a good tone for the rest of my day.
This list is just to help give you some ideas to think about and try. If you have your own methods, feel free to share them in a comment below! I always love to learn from others what works for them.