How many things have been hanging around your to-do list for weeks?
Is your strategy just pick the quickest thing to do on the list so you can get something ticked off? Meanwhile, the important stuff just gets pushed further back.
What tasks on your list actually have anything to do with your big goals?
There are a bunch of reasons your to-do list isn’t working but it doesn’t mean you need to give it up! With a few simple tweaks, your to-do list can become a weapon of meaningful productivity.
The pros of a to-do list
There are a few positives for to-do lists. They get everything out of your brain and down onto paper. That’s great because we don’t want all these things turning around in our minds, taking up time and energy.
The other thing good thing is ticking stuff off the list! (check out: The 1 Thing that Holds People Back from Achieving More) That little check, it makes us feel amazing! Have you ever added something to your to-do list just to check it off? I know you have, so have I! We love that feeling of checking something off.
There are clearly some great reasons to have a to-do list, but if yours is leaving you frustrated and feeling like you never get anything done, this could be why…
It’s full of tasks not aligned with your goal
Do the things on your to-do list actually help you achieve your goals?
Sure, there’s some of the daily, monotonous-type tasks we need to get through. However, the majority of your to-do list should be aligned with your goals and vision for life in some way, shape or form.
If there are a bunch of things on the list not related to your goals, you’ve got to get rid of them.
Too many times we just put things on a to-do list, we say yes to something and all of a sudden we’re doing all these things we don’t want to do. Commitments and tasks that have nothing to do with what’s truly important to us.
When there’s no filter in place to ask….
Should I really be doing this?
Is it really aligned with my goals?
Is it getting me closer to achieving everything I want in life?
….your to-do list just becomes a sort of dumping ground of low-value tasks and other people’s priorities.
Your to-do list is just a big list of un-prioritised stuff
The other reason you’ll struggle to make a to-do list work is when there’s no clear priority for the tasks you’ve listed out.
To effectively manage our day, we have to prioritise: is it urgent, is it important? Is it actually something that needs to be done today? Or can it be done in three weeks’ time?
Typically, to-do lists aren’t written in priority order. They’re usually just a laundry list of everything you have to do.
You look at this long list and feel really overwhelmed because you think you’ve got all these things to do! But what do you really have to do today?
Getting clear on an intentional order for action items and following through on them in that way will change the value of what you can achieve in a day. You won’t necessarily get more stuff done but you’ll be focusing on what’s important and valuable.
Checking a few really important items off the list is so much better than checking off a whole bunch of small, insignificant things.
Focusing on any tasks rather than the important ones means at the end of the day you’ll still be stressing about those things that didn’t get done. The joy of ticking off the small jobs fades pretty quickly if you haven’t taken care of the big things.
There are no deadlines on your to-do list
When there’s no deadline assigned to a task, there’s a big chance it won’t happen.
If your to-do list is filled with a bunch of stuff that requires different lengths of time to complete, you’ll invariably focus on the shorter ones for that happiness hit when you tick it off the list.
This means, without a deadline, the longer tasks will just keep getting pushed back and back and back.
Once you’ve prioritised the task, you need to diarise that shiz, put a date against it and schedule it in.
I’ve got an awesome daily planner template that can help you with this and a quick video that steps you through how to use it. Download my awesome planner here!
Write out a Not-to-do list
We’re so big on to-do lists, but what about the not-to-do lists? What about the things that you should be saying no to that you’re actually saying yes to?
What about the daily habits that don’t add value to your life?
Take some time out today and instead of writing a to-do list, write a not-to-do list. What are the things that you’re not going to do today? By not doing those things, you’ll stay focused on the important stuff.
A not-to-do list is going to give you back time and more energy. It will help you stand up to the people you should be pushing back on and saying no to!
Yep, those people that are filling your to-do list up with their priorities and not yours.
I totally encourage you to give my daily planner a go. I love it. So many of my friends were like “Hey, what are you using? That’s really cool! Where can I get it?” so I started sharing it around and now it’s my gift to you! Enjoy!
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