The importance of to-do lists cannot be over-stated. Almost everyone who uses them gets more done than those who don’t. Sure, a few people can keep everything in their heads without a problem. Most of us need some help remembering, especially lists. Studies have shown that people who are disorganized are anxious. Making a list of to-dos, and using a planner, calendar or spreadsheet for expenses can help calm the anxiety.
However, be very careful with that to-do list. Here are several ideas I’ve come across during my study of this subject:
Go ahead, make the list. Then choose either the three or up to six most important things on it. Write them down on another list, and put away your longer one. Concentrate on getting those three to six things done before tackling anything else. This does not work for long-term projects, however. Most people cannot write a whole novel using this idea.
In that case, break your six larger projects down into smaller chunks. For the novel, your to-do list says to work for a certain about of time or word count every day. Then you go on to the next item.
If the next item of importance can be finished, after doing your hour or so on the broken-down project, finish item two.
Maybe item three or four is also a project that will need to be spread out over several days. Again, plan to devote a certain amount of time to it, then get to the other things.
Another way to do a list is to break down your life into sections: Family, work, health, finances/family business, spirituality, leisure. Or pick your life priorities, and put them in order of importance. Then plan to devote a certain amount of time every day to each one. In this case, you’ll probably have to again break down your work priorities into order of importance and amount of time to spend on each every day during working hours. Notice the coincidence of my listing six life priorities. The other day I read about picking three things from your to-do list every day to concentrate one. Today, I read about picking six items. I’ve seen the other idea of life priorities over the years.
I’m thinking for work, you might want to have three major project priorities, and three smaller ones that can be done quickly.
I suggest fooling with your to-do list or lists (could be one for work and one for personal) until you find a system that makes you the least anxious and least likely to procrastinate.
That will end up being your own, personal system.Then, you can do the happy dance.