To-do lists should help us get organized, stay on track, and enjoy a sense of accomplishment when we scratch something off as completed. All too often, however, they have the opposite effect, producing anxiety when we can’t finish everything we’ve added to them. Even worse, they may encourage us to overwork if we just don’t feel comfortable ending the day without completing everything we planned.
Here’s how to take control of your to-do list:
- Be realistic: There are only so many hours in the day, so make a to-do list that reflects that. If you pile on more than any human being can hope to accomplish, you’re setting yourself up for failure and the anxiety that goes with having too much to do and too little time.
- Pick and choose: If you’re like most entrepreneurs, there are a thousand things you do for your business every day. Don’t try to write them all down. Think strategically, and list the most important things you need to do in order to move towards your goals. If you are a forgetful person, make a list of the things most likely to slip your mind.
- Make it shorter:A shorter list that changes as the day goes on may help enhance your productivity. For example, consider making a list of things you want to accomplish before lunch. Then, make a new list after lunch, which may include anything left over from the before-lunch list. This way, you feel the sense of accomplishment that goes with crossing things off your list and you immediately move forward with the next set of critical tasks.
- Evaluate: If you frequently have trouble completing your to-do list, you’re not alone.It’s very common to run out of time to complete all the tasks that go along with running a business. However, the fact that it’s very common doesn’t mean you should accept it. Look at the items most frequently left on your to-do lists at the end of the day. What are they? What got in the way of completing them? Evaluate ways to make better use of your time, and consider delegating tasks to others.
A to-do list should be a tool for boosting your productivity instead of provoking anxiety. Use the above tips to keep your to-do lists manageable and on track.
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