It’s all well and good to get an email inbox organized like I talked about in my last post, but even if you do so what about the rest of your To Do list? After all, getting to Inbox Zero was merely one of that very long list, I’ll bet! Well, here are some tips I have that’ll help you get on top – and stay on top – of everything.
For the record, grammatically I am aware that there technically should not be an apostrophe in Do’s but if I write it grammatically correctly it says “Organize Your To Dos” and I’m afraid people will think I’m speaking Spanish…
Organize Your To Do’s
- Allow yourself thirty minutes to sit down and write out your To Do list. Put down absolutely everything you can think of that needs to be done. Whether it’s for that day, for the week, or just stuff you must do for your entire life, write it down.
- Review your list and decide which of them absolutely must be done. I don’t mean because your spouse insists the front door must be painted pink by Valentine’s Day (unless, of course, you not doing so would result in a nasty marital problem). I’m talking about which of your list items will (or may) result in catastrophic consequences if you don’t do them. Example: you must go for your annual medical checkup because you have a history of cancer in your family. Second Example: You must dust and clean house because your daughter’s allergies are getting worse and worse and the inside filth is exacerbating her problems.
- Figure out how the rest of the To Do’s can get done without you. Yes, that’s right, without your involvement. If you have ten MUST DO items, especially if some of them are complicated or involve a huge time commitment, then you must focus the majority of your time on completing those. Ask family members, friends or coworkers for help with the other items on your list if you don’t want them (or whoever benefits) to wait until you are finished with your Top Ten.
- Decide if your To Do’s are going to advance your life in any way. Often I find that something you want isn’t going to get you anywhere with respect to your life goals, dreams and desires. Example: You love to play Facebook games like ‘Farmville,’ but doing so isn’t actually helping you find a better job or spend more time with your children so getting involved the three new games your Facebook friends are now playing isn’t going to do anything to help you in your life, but it will waste your valuable time.
- Focus on only one To Do at a time. The human mind is not capable of focusing on more than one thing (yes, multitasking is a myth). Having more than one thing going on at any given time is a primary contributor to the feeling of Overwhelm because when you find yourself with a spare few minutes, you’re so torn on which thing to focus on that you may not actually get to any of them! Example: If you must finish reading a book because you promised your best friend you’d give her an honest review of it on Amazon, then get the book read and get the review written before you move on to the second To Do. Don’t sit and worry about the other To Do’s on your list (unless they’re life-threatening, of course).
- Stop adding stuff to your To Do list. This may seem obvious, but until you stand up for yourself and become fierce in guarding your time, you are destined to always have a To Do list longer than your arm even if you are getting things done regularly. You must be brave and say NO when someone asks for you to volunteer to drive for a carpool, or when your spouse says they want to have a dinner party at your place this coming weekend. Stand your ground, because you won’t ever dig yourself out of your current mess if you don’t.
Remember that you are the only person who is totally 100% interested in making sure you can get all of your important To Do’s done, because what is important to you isn’t always going to be the same things that are important to others. It’s challenging if you have four bosses at work who all want you to do their “thing” at the same time, but if you don’t ask one or all of them “Which of these should I do first?” then you’re basically telling them you’ll do them all at once and that is physically impossible.
It’s up to you to organize and then execute your To Do list, and to keep it manageable. Take ownership of your time and you will be in control of your life.
What other techniques do you use you keep your To Do list organized? Share your tips and tricks with me either here or on my Facebook page!