“Focus on being productive instead of being busy.” ~Tim Ferris
Some people love a good to-do list. They like to jot down all the tasks they hope to accomplish in a certain time period and then feel the satisfaction of crossing off various items. The thing is, though, that to-do lists aren’t always effective. Many people use them as parking lots for items they want to get to eventually and they end up getting overwhelmed and not completing the tasks at all.
Naphtali Hoff, Psy.D., president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting, says there are some ways you can turn the traditional to-do list into a list in which you accomplish meaningful tasks, rather than just crossing things off a checklist.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Dr. Hoff’s smart strategies for approaching your to-do items.
1. Add the right items. When jotting your to-do list, keep it manageable. If you add too many items you can’t accomplish in a day, you will feel overwhelmed. Dr. Hoff recommends adding only items that are actionable and measurable (such as making 20 sales calls) and that you can finish in one sitting.
2. Schedule time for high-priority work. If you do not prioritize items on your to-do list, you may end up wasting time and not getting to the most important items. Look at your list and move the high-priority items to the top. Whether you use a planner, whiteboard or corkboard, pick a format that works for you and stick to it.
3. Split projects into smaller tasks. When you have large, looming projects on your to-do list, you might not know where to start. That’s why Dr. Hoff suggests breaking larger tasks into more approachable, quantifiable action steps.
4. Begin with the easy tasks. Some people recommend “eating the frog,” or starting with the difficult tasks. Dr. Hoff encourages building momentum by knocking out a few easy two-minute items on your list. This can help you get in the frame of mind for the real work.
5. Let others know your plans. Accountability is a big driver when getting things done. When your colleagues or bosses know what you plan to accomplish, you will naturally want to stay on task.
6. Enjoy checking off items. There’s a real sense of satisfaction in crossing a line or putting a checkmark next to a completed item on your to-do list. Remember to do this digitally if you use tools such as Trello or Asana.
7. Edit your list. Take a look at your to-do list (if you keep one). Are there items that seem to perpetually end up there? Take some time to determine what is getting in the way of accomplishing those tasks. Maybe they do not need to be an action item on your list at all.
If you have been making to-do lists for years but you do not feel like you’re making any real progress or change, it may be time to take a fresh approach. Just because you make a to-do list does not mean you will be more productive or effective at accomplishing your tasks. Instead, think of your list as a success list by following the tips above. You might be surprised at the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of the day when you see you made tangible progress on an important project.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Naphtali Hoff, Psy.D. is president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. He wrote the leadership book, Becoming the New Boss.
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