Are you the type of person that’s great at conquering your to-do list every day?
If so, I may need your help because I am just the opposite.
I like to write everything down, but once it’s down and out of my head, I tend to procrastinate on the big things that need to get done.
The big things, I’ve discovered, are really just the tasks that require multiple steps. On my list, they only show as one task, but I have trouble getting started on them because the task doesn’t give me the direction that I need.
Strategies to conquer your to-do list
1. Break it down
When I come across a task that I keep moving forward in my calendar, I know that I need to revisit it and break it down into smaller chunks.
There are several methods that I use for getting these items done. Some are in regards to the task itself, and some are in regards to how I manage (or don’t manage!) my time.
Ask yourself, what is the first thing you need to do with this task. Is it make a phone call? Gather papers? Write an outline?
That is what should be on your task list today. When you finish that first task, cross it off and immediately write the next step you need to take. By moving forward one small step at a time, you’ll be finished before you know it.
2. Time Blocking
Set aside time for similar tasks.
- If you have creative work to do, get that done first. It’s the easiest to push off and the hardest to get started, so working on it first thing in the morning means you have a clearer and sharper mind to create.
- Plan tomorrow out tonight. If you look at your day tomorrow, see where you will be able to fit in blocks of time to get things done on your list.
- Don’t forget to take breaks between your time blocks. (This is where I struggle. I get into a groove and then don’t take a break. The problem with this is when I do take a break, it ends up being longer than I intended to recover from the focus time that I just had.)
3. Add your tasks as appointments on your calendar
Do you have a list that contains EVERYTHING in it? Are you trying to figure out how you’re going to find time in the day to get all these things done?
When you sit down to get stuff done is your work stuff mixed with your household stuff, which is mixed with your kids’ stuff? That’s exactly what my to do list looks like at the beginning of the week.
Because I need to get all the stuff out of my head. If I have it sitting on my mind, I don’t function because I feel like I’m constantly forgetting stuff.
When I write it down on a list, I feel calmer. More in control. It’s a weekly brain dump.
I can then look at the list and see what fits into my week. Let’s face it, the list is usually longer than the time we have available.
If something doesn’t fit into this week, I’ll put it in my notes for when I plan next week, and remove the stress of that task from this week’s schedule.
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4. Sit down and get it done!
A few years ago my husband suggested that I read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. I think I had it sitting on my night table for over a year before I finally picked it up. I have now read the book several times and it is the book I turn to when I am having trouble focusing.
It’s the kick in the ass that I need whenever I notice that I have a million reasons why I’ve been avoiding getting stuff done.
Steven Pressfield talks about resistance. “Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.”
Yup. That sounds about right.
We are often our own worst enemy
It’s really resistance that stops us from moving forward. Breaking our bigger tasks into smaller chunks helps fight the resistance that pops up when we don’t know where to begin.
I’ve spoken before about setting big goals, and how to break them down to achieve them.
This works in much the same way.
All those things we need to get done are not impossible. Whether big or small, we just need to look at the next bite-sized piece.
And keep moving forward.