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Master Your To-Do List Once and For All

Pressed for time? Listen to this topic on The Life Coach Lifeline Podcast.

The app world is TEEMING with apps determined to help you become better at managing your to-do list. With promises of “no more wasted time” and the belief that we will be reminded of our every errand, it is easy to dismiss the idea of jotting down our daily obligations on a piece of paper.

In last week’s blog we talked about the reasons why keeping an old-school, tech-free planner is helpful and started off our 28 Day Planner Challenge together.

This week we are shifting our focus specifically to the to-do list column as I give you the BEST strategy for mastering your to-do list.

Haven’t downloaded your free planner yet?? Get it here and you will get the daily challenge emails as well!

Gretchen’s to do list strategy:

1. Keep a running digital to do list.

Put everything there. I mean everything! When something pops into your head, add it to the list. I use the “reminders” app on my iPhone and occasionally I cull it to keep it up to date. I will delete things that I did without thinking or that were delegated. It will also remind me of those “get to it someday” things that I want to do.

It also clears up space in your head. I am known to tell people (probably to an annoying extent) “If you are trying to remember something you are doing it wrong.” Get it out of your head and into an organized space!

2. Daily pick 5 things that have to be done.

I know! You want to pick more don’t you?? Well, after scheduling out your day and writing out the 5 things to do “when you have the time” chances are your day is pretty full. Why get to the place where you just have to look at things you didn’t get done at the end of the day? This reason alone might be why you feel like you just can’t catch up.

Try this strategy for a month and see if you don’t feel as if you have more control over your life and more freedom to have some downtime!

3. Write them down where you will see them.

I know we touched on why non-tech planning works in a previous blog, but here’s a reminder of why we use this same (albeit LOW tech) strategy with our to-do list:

  • Writing helps you remember - When we type out something it is an automatic process. One that doesn’t require retaining information. Writing things out is engaging and helps it stick in your brain!

  • Crossing off completed tasks is satisfying - There is a sense of achievement that comes with crossing off tasks that just simply isn’t the same in an app.

  • You can reflect on your activities - digital planners are there to remind you and can create a sense of urgency around what has NOT been done. Paper to-do list allow for examination of how you have been spending your time and what you priorities really are in this season. A quick glance can give you insight into where you can reorganize your life to live more of it!

  • There are no distractions - opening a calendar or reminder app multiple times throughout the day is risking the temptation to get involved in another app. Before you get lost in the scroll, put the phone down and reach for your planner instead.

4. If you don’t do something, transfer it to the next day.

Don’t spend any time beating yourself up about it, just simply move it to the next days list and move on. Could it be that your to-do list needs to only be 2 or 3 things right now instead of 5? Also, completely okay!

5. Eventually, eat the frog or delete the task.

If that task keeps getting transferred from day to day without getting completed you have found a red flag!

One of two things is happening: 1) That task really isn’t a priority for you and you need to just delete it or delegate it. 2) You are avoiding that task for some reason.

Dealing with 1 is pretty obvious, but 2 gets a little tricky. See, our brain has made this task something massive and put some kind of fear around it. Maybe it is as simple as fear that it will be difficult or annoying. And yes, that can be a real thing! So we procrastinate and skip this task for one that we deem more enjoyable.

Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Gross, but a great metaphor for effective time management. In the to-do list world it means to tackle that thing first before moving on to the rest of your to-do list. And that is exactly what you will do with that piece you have transferred over day after day.

Does this motivate you as much as it does me?? I’m ready to get stuff done!

LIFE WORK: This week focus on your to-do list technique as you tackle the planner challenge.

Don’t have your planner yet?? Download it here!

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