Ah, the to-do list.
Lately, I’ve had dozens of calls from high-achievers (a Head of School, a university athletic coach, a tech industry Chief Marketing Officer) asking me for specific instructions for keeping a more effective to-do list. Ineffective task lists trigger overwhelm, and these folks were suffering. They’d look down at their list and instinctively think: There is no way I can get all this done today.
Great to-do lists, on the other hand, do several things (besides provide you with that feeling of accomplishment when you cross something off of it):
- They allow you to focus on your highest priorities and your most important work without having to decide what, exactly, that is in any given moment.
- They externalize information so that you don’t need to remember it, freeing up space and energy in your brain. The key here is having a list that keeps your brain from interrupting you with “reminders” that you need to, say, pick up kitty litter on the way home from work. (Note: Just writing something down on a list isn’t enough to silence the reminders that come from your unconscious mind.)
- They promote a state of deep focus by providing cues as to where you are in your workflow.
This week, upgrade your to-do list. Spend a little time organizing your list either before you leave work (for the next day) or first thing in the morning. Take less than five minutes to plan out your priorities. Having a prioritized list of just the things that you’d like to accomplish today will allow you to note what you’ve just accomplished, what you hope to accomplish next, and what you’ll work on after that.
If your task list is ready for a full remodel, this blog post gives you specific instructions for developing a high performing task-list.
If you need more energy and focus to do your most important work — if you’d like to get MORE done in LESS time — you will love my brand new eCourse! If you join now, you’ll get a FREE hardcover copy of my book The Sweet Spot. Click here to sign up.