Yesterday, I found myself looking at a to do-list for the day that was far too long and completely overwhelming. So much, that I almost couldn’t motivate myself to get started on the first things on the list, because it was clear from the beginning that I didn’t have any chance of finishing all the tasks on the list. A rough estimate revealed that I had at least 12 hours of work in front of me (and that did not include time for lunch, breaks, interruptions, etc.) but only had around 4-5 hours between meetings.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? If yes, you’re definitely not alone!
When your daily to do-list is too long and too unrealistic, several things can happen:
- You will typically get less done
- You are much more likely to procrastinate
- Your motivation is likely to be low
- You will often feel more worried and more easily be distracted
- You will often spend too much time looking at your endless to do-list instead of doing the real work
- You will often find yourself working on low-priority tasks instead of your high-priority tasks (often to try to clear some “easy” tasks so that you quickly can reduce the size of the list – but this will sometimes mean that you never get around to your high priority tasks at all!)
- There is a high chance that you’ll end your day feeling frustrated, behind, and drained
- You will often not feel very satisfied with your day, even if you managed to get a good chunk of work done
Luckily, the solution is simple!
As soon as you realize that your to do-list is unrealistically long, spend 5 minutes to remove as many tasks as possible from your list (tasks that you very well know that you’re not going to get done anyway) and move them to the to do-list for the next day (or the day after or next week or whatever makes sense).
In other words, you need a NOT to do-list where you can park all the tasks that you cannot realistically do today.
You need to free your to do-list of clutter. You need to reduce the size of it so that it’s manageable. You need to get all the tasks out of sight that you won’t have time to work on today.
Having a short, realistic to do-list that you feel confident in is absolutely essential to get peace and calm to focus on the things that you need to do right now.
So if you are reading this blog post as procrastination because you have a too long to do-list, then you must take action immediately! Make your to do-list for today shorter! You can even pick out only 1-3 things that you need to do! Then start the work! It’s never too late to make a change and it’s never too late to get started. Now is the right time.
Have a great and efficient day!
PS: You are making daily to do-list, right? Not a to do-list for the week? Or without a time limit? Daily to do-lists rock and make you much more efficient!