Conquering Your To Do List

Three Easy Steps to Getting Everything Off of Your List.

Do you have a to-do list?  If so, congratulations!  A recent study revealed that you save on average of 90 minutes a day – just through organizing yourself with a list.  That translates to a whopping 23 extra days a year.

Before you start a new list of all the things you can do with that spare time, we need to address something us “listers” don’t like to talk about.  (And yes, I am one of you.)  Brace yourself – it’s the dirty little secret we try to hide:  Some stuff never gets off of our lists.

Yes, I said it.  Your to-do list is never done.  (Oh the humanity!)

Chances are even with 23 extra days some of those things will stay put – kind of like the Kardashians.  No matter how badly you want them to go away – they are always there.

The Dirty Little Secret

Most to-do listers satisfaction from checking something off the list.   It creates a feeling of accomplishment.  Given that, guess what tasks we focus on?  The ones we can check off!  If you have you ever written something (that you’ve already done) on your list, just so you can check it off, then I’m talking to you.

And therein is the irony of the to-do list population:  what makes us productive is also holding us back.

By focusing on the do-able tasks, we reward ourselves for activity – not progress.  Meaning, we check off ‘stuff’ that may not actually translate into moving us toward our goal.  It just makes us feel good.

Conquer Your To Do List

So, what is a lister to do?  (Pun intended.) There are literally thousands of books and articles on how to tackle to-do lists.  However, I’ve found a ridiculously easy and effective approach, which I use and actively recommend to clients:

Imagine you have to eat a frog for breakfast.  Yep, a slimy frog.  Now if you can do that, you can tackle anything your day sends your way, right?!?

Next, look at your to-do list and follow these three simple steps:

  1. Circle your to-do list “frogs” – Chances are they live at the bottom of your list.  You may recognize them as the frogs you relocate from list to list in the vain hope that you’ll get to them someday….
  2. Pick one frog a day and tackle it first thing – Important!  Do this before you have time to talk yourself out of it or create another list detailing all the reasons why you aren’t doing it.  (Yeah, I know your type.)
  3. Repeat daily until the frog population is eradicated.  You’ll find that the frogs are rarely as bad as we make them out to be.  Moreover, we save even more time by stopping the procrastination cycle!

After a few days/weeks, your to-do list actually gets done.  Now, THAT is a feeling of accomplishment.

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How do you tackle your to-do lists?

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