Do you ever feel like a slave to your to-do list? If your list is a mile long each day, you’re likely not alone. Crossing items off your to-do list can give you a feeling of accomplishment.
However, it’s inevitable that more and more items will be added afterward allowing you to feel under pressure once again.
While you’ll likely always have a to-do list, there are a few ways to organize it and make progress so it doesn’t cause you stress or overwhelm. Here are a few effective ways to tame your to-do list.
Check Your Emotions
Why are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by your to-do list? Is it because you have too much stuff on your plate? Narrow down how that makes you feel.
Also, identify the emotions you feel as you think about tackling each item on your to-do list. Some items may make you feel excited while others may make you feel anxious. If you are procrastinating doing certain items, find out why.
Maybe you feel like the task is too hard or will be frustrating to work on. If that’s the case, break down the task into chunks and place it at the top of your to-do list. Sure, you may want to avoid those tough tasks but taking care of it first can actually give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to finish up everything else.
I had this difficult task last month where I had to research stats for a client and update/rewrite them in an article. I broke the task up over 3 days so I didn’t have to feel the pressure of completing it all at once. There were 15 stats so I did 5 each day. This was much more manageable for me and allowed me to complete the task then blow through the rest of my to-do list.
Divide Your To-Do List Up
If you want to tame your to-do list, you need to focus on prioritizing. Your list should not just be one long jumbled up mess. Categorize the items based on how urgent they are, the difficulty level, and even the deadline if it applies.
At minimum, separate your list into two different categories: ‘do now’ and ‘do later’. Be sure to put a time limit on the do later items, but realize they are less urgent.
You may want to set your day up where you take care of 4 do now items and 1 do later so you can make progress. Try to always be one or two days ahead of schedule if you can as well.
This can even apply to your personal life. Start writing your grocery list early, prep meals in advance and pick out what you’ll wear for the entire week.
Schedule a Power Hour
I try to have at least one power hour each day. It’s a time where I get into a state of hyperfocus, eliminate distractions and take care of my important tasks for the day. This is the best time to chip away at your to-do list items in all categories that you’ve established.
A power hour doesn’t just have to be 60 minutes. It can be 2 or 3 hours if you prefer. Just realize, the more time you give yourself the easier it will be to get distracted.
The more often you schedule a power hour, the less hectic your to-do list will seem. There’s nothing wrong with having a few unproductive days, but just keep working in your power hours so you can stay on top of things overall.
Hand Off Some Work
Sometimes, we think we have to do everything by ourselves. If you have a team, coworkers, or family members, consider passing a few tasks off to them. If you keep running into the problem of having an unmanageable to-do list, identify the things you don’t have the time or energy to do and see if someone else can take them on.
Outsourcing can be so helpful for this problem and allow you to finally get more things done. I like to outsource certain tasks that I find too challenging or that I simply don’t have time to do.
Hiring help doesn’t have to be super costly either. I have a VA who is very good at what she does and her efficiency allows her to get more done in less time. I recently handed off a task to her that took me over an hour to figure out and she was able to complete it in 10 minutes.
Increase Your Productivity
Is a short to-do list actually possible? You don’t have to have a massive to-do list all the time. When you increase your productivity, you can tame your to-do list and keep it manageable.
Focus on doing things like waking up earlier to allow more time in your schedule if it allows. Even getting up just one hour earlier could do wonders for your productivity.
Get on a schedule in advance so you know what you’re doing and when. This eliminates the time and energy wasted trying get organized and figure out what you’re going to do. Prioritize your tasks and consider breaking them down into more reasonable chunks so you can focus a portion of the work each day.
Also, eliminate distractions. Silence your phone, turn the TV off, block social media sites during the day, and schedule intentional breaks when you need it.
You may always have a to-do list, but it doesn’t have to weigh you down. Consider doing these 5 things to help you tame your to-do list and actually feel good about having one and making progress.