We’ve all been there. You finally tick off a task or action from your to-do list and immediately think of another 3 things you have to add. This is on top of the twenty or so items still sitting there from the last week or month. You get overwhelmed, conclude you’ll never master getting it all done and toss the list in the bottom of your handbag.
Well today is the day that all changes!
Being an avid writer of to-do lists over the years, I’ve developed a hack that will actually help you master you own to-do list, get things done and reduce any feeling of overwhelm in your day to day life.
By using this hack and grabbing my free Time Blocking Cheat Sheet, you’ll will soon be ticking your way through all the tasks you’ve been putting off.
Grab a notebook, get yourself a cup of your favourite beverage (you can even try my DIY Turmeric Tea), and lets spend the next few minutes learning to be the master of your dreaded to-do list. Follow my hack and I guarantee you will get stuff done in half the time with the least amount of resistance. Are you ready?
Set a 7 minute timer on your phone and do a brain dump of all the things you ‘think‘ have to do.
Don’t take any more time than seven minutes! When the mind is under a time constraint, it’s usually the first things that pop up in your mind that are most important to you!
When the seven minutes are up, review the list. Ask yourself:
Even if your list is made up of mundane things like washing the car, cleaning the fridge or booking an appointment, the questions above will help to give you insight as to why you have not got round to doing it.
It’s also important to question if you have put ‘YOU’ at the top of your to-do list! If not – why not?
Once you have reviewed your initial seven minute brain dump, take as long as you want to add other items to your to-do list so you can get it out of your head and on to paper.
There it is, all down in one place. All the things that’s been keeping you up at night thinking ‘I must do..’, is finally out of your head, ready for you to take action. But wait!
The problem with traditional to-do list’s is there is no system, order or deadline. Just an ever growing, painful reminder that you are not capable of running your life and doing what you know needs to be done.
So lets try this.
Decide which actions can be delegated to other people. If there are items written down that, (when you really think about it), are no longer needed or relevant – discard them. The remaining actions on your list should only be made up of the things YOU actually ‘HAVE TO DO!’.
In your note pad re-write your to-do list under different categories of your life. E.g. Family, work, household, finance, health, self-development, etc. Choose what ever categories fit your lifestyle. Also add a category called miscellaneous, for those random things that don’t fir in any category!
The amazing by-product of categorising your to-do list, is that it draws your focus to the areas in your life that need the most attention! Are you surprised at which category has the biggest list of actions? This could be the reason why your are struggling in this area or spending effort avoiding it!
With all your to-do’s categorised, and the knowledge of what area of your life needs the most attention, you are now ready to master your list!
Within each category, decide on a deadline for the completion of each task. This could be 7 days, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months etc. Next to each task, write down your desired deadline.
Your to-do list is now an action plan!
So, I guess it’s time to take action!
In your diary, planner or on your phone, look at the next 4 weeks ahead. Start to plot the actions with a ‘7 day deadline’ into your week ahead. Pay attention to your other commitments to be sure you have the space and time to complete the action on your day of choice. (You can also use my Time Blocking Cheat Sheet to help.)
Then, plot the actions you scheduled with the ‘1 month deadline’ in the same manner as above.
When you first start plotting your actions, it’s best to build momentum by choosing short, easy tasks. The feeling of ticking items off the list, will put you in the right frame of mind for the bigger ones that may take more time.
Each week, tick off the things you have completed, review your list and plot your actions according to your deadlines. As you master your to-do list with this hack, there will obviously be new items to add to the list. But that’s OK! Just add the action under the relevant category, give it a deadline and then plot it in to your week or month.
The great thing about this hack is, as new things get added you are also ticking off completed items. So satisfying!
I use this hack for all areas of my life and know first hand how effective a good system is to getting sh*t done, making progress and not feeling overwhelmed.
Give it a try and let me know in the comments below if you have any questions, if you’re going to give it a try and most important to me – what impact it made on your life when you tried it.