Got a million and one items on your to-do list? No wonder you feel overwhelmed and give in to the temptation to idly surf the web or decide that TODAY is THE day you absolutely, positively MUST clean your office!
Instead of overwhelming yourself with a To-Doozy of a To-Do list, try tackling 2 to 3 PRIORITY projects a day. The trick is that it isn’t enough to just start them; you must finish whatever 2 or 3 tasks you decide to tackle that day – no excuses, no exceptions!
The reason for this approach is simple: when faced with a too long To-Do list, we tend to go for what is easiest, instead of what is the most important. It’s human nature – we need to feel a sense of accomplishment and spending all day tackling one task is less rewarding than quickly crossing off a batch of easy ones.
By focusing on 2 to 3 strategic priorities per day, in essence, you are putting on the blinders to those other tasks that serve as a distraction for what you really need to do. Not to say that you can’t tackle other tasks should you complete your 2 to 3 priority tasks, just don’t put them on your daily to-do list.
The Difference Between a Daily Task and a Laundry List
Your DAILY task list and your LAUNDRY list are two entirely different things. Your daily task list is what you need to accomplish that day; whereas, your laundry list is everything under the sun that you need to get done eventually.
Use your laundry list to keep track of all your ideas, someday projects and anything that has to get done, but isn’t time-sensitive. If your laundry list starts to build up or ends up with a bunch of more pressing tasks on it, like paying bills or filing corporate returns, block off an hour in your calendar to tackle them all at once.
How to Manage a Too Long To-Do List and Focus on Priority Tasks
#1: Cross Off the To-Don’ts – Not all tasks are created equal, which is why it’s just as important to understand what belongs on your To-Don’t list. Don’t wade into administrative tasks, don’t get distracted by time-wasters and don’t put cleaning up your office ahead of project work.
#2: Highlight the Priority Tasks – Ask yourself what the ONE task if you could finish it right now would move your business forward the most? Do that task as your FIRST priority, even if that’s all you accomplish that day.
#3: Batch the Administrivia – Saving your laundry list items for whatever time you have left in the day is a good strategy for avoiding distraction; however, sometimes that means they never get done. Block off an hour a week to focus on crossing off all your laundry list items so that list doesn’t become overwhelming either.
#4: Schedule Time in Your Calendar – Block off sufficient time in your calendar to tackle your daily task list and work meetings and calls around those work blocks. The purpose is twofold: #1 to give yourself a realistic view of your week so you don’t pile on more work and #2 to prevent you (or others) from booking too many meetings.
#5: Race the Clock – Set concrete goals for how long each task should take you. Sometimes it may end up taking longer because of a technical challenge or unforeseen roadblocks, but more often than not, you will meet or exceed that goal simply because of awareness.
#6: Turn Off Distractions – Don’t give yourself the additional challenge of trying to accomplish your daily task while multitasking between checking email, answering your telephone and updating your social media. Turn off the distractions during your focus work blocks!
What is your favorite way to handle a doozy of a to-do list? Share your tips in the comments below!