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Remind Your To-Do List Who’s Boss

With anywhere from five to fifteen clients in progress at any one time, my work lives & dies by to-do lists most of the time. I’m a fan myself…there’s such satisfaction in the checking off & crossing out part :)

But, if I’m not careful, before I know it my to-do list is ruling me rather than the other way around.

Here are a few tips to remind your to-do who’s boss:

  1. Don’t Add Tasks to the Same Day – This is key. Unless something is truly urgent, when an email or a phone call or a text message comes in that requires an action step, don’t add it to that day’s list. Learn to ask the question “What’s the worst that will happen if this doesn’t get done until tomorrow?” If the answer is “It won’t get done until tomorrow” then it can wait. If someone else has asked you to complete the task, take 1 minute to quickly respond & let them know when you tackle the task, people have infinitely more patience if you let them know their request has been heard.
  2. Break Up Big & Small Tasks – I use Flow to manage tasks on a daily basis. However, if a task is going to take me longer than 30 minutes, I add it to a paper to-do list. This list is broken up Monday-Friday. At the start of each week I look at the big tasks I need to accomplish & assign them to a day based on the rest of my calendar. Example: if I have 3 meetings on Tuesday, it may not get any big tasks as I know I won’t have the time. But if Wednesday is wide open I’ll tackle 4 big tasks that day. I find this break up makes the bigger tasks seem more manageable.
  3. Work in 30 Minute Intervals – Unless I’m in a meeting or tackling a big task, I try to work in 30 minute intervals for a couple of reasons. 1) I can seriously focus in for 30 minutes. 2) It’s enough time to focus in on one client without being distracted by the others but also not feeling like I’m ignoring them. 3) Trying to focus in less than 30 minute intervals leaves me feeling like I’m in a constant state of inefficient multi-tasking.
  4. The Two Minute Rule – If a task will take less than 2 minutes, do it on the spot. It will take me half that long to put it in my task management system so I’m better off just doing it right away.
  5. Don’t Rely On Your Memory – It’s inevitable, right? You will think of things you need to do at the most inconvenient times. My favorite thing about a digital task management system is that it’s always with me whether on my computer or my phone. This allows me to write down tasks as soon as they come to mind. Relying on my memory to remind me of the task later will eventually fail me & takes away from my ability to be fully present in any moment

What tips would you add?  


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