If you are someone chasing success or a dream, there is a good chance that you have figured out a ton of things that you need to do in order to get to that dream. People and their to do lists can cause more stress than they alleviate at times.
In an effort to be useful, I have compiled this short list of ideas you may want to consider before planning your next to do list.
- Actually make the to do list – as in write it down. Yes, I know this one may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many people still rely solely on their cute little noggin to remember all the things that they need to get done during the course of a day, week or month. Now we know that self-help gurus encourage you to use your brain more so that you strengthen and train it to do more. But seriously, there are far more exciting “lean mean brain machine” exercises that you could than simply trying to store your entire to do list and calendar for the year up there. Besides, when you are trying to remember your to do list during the course of the day, your ability to remember is further diminished by stress and the hectic pace of your day. Buy a diary or planner, use that bad boy to store all your lists or appointments and use that brain power on the good stuff.
- Select 3 – 5 priority items per day. If you are like me, your to do list could have hundreds of activities on it. We write it all down so that we have it documented somewhere (see tip # 1) but we know that, realistically, there is no way all that sherbert is getting done in one day. Choose 3 – 5 of those tasks that are absolute non-negotiables for the day. Focus on getting those items done and when you do, celebrate that day as a victory. Any other items that you manage to complete in addition to your priority items are just cherries on top and a reason to spoil yourself with a glass of wine or a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day. Don’t ever say my suggestions aren’t useful.
- Know the difference between important and urgent. Urgent activities are the things that you NEED to do today because they will either get you paid or prevent something bad from happening. Important activities are the things that will help you move in the direction of your dreams and assist you in building the life you want. Doing the report for your boss when you dream doesn’t involve being employed, completing the work for a client you have no intention of working with in the future, paying the electricity bills and doing the grocery shopping are all urgent – but none of those things are necessarily going to result in you moving in the direction of a big goal or dream. Researching the industry you want to get into, studying for a new qualification, making time to build your website or marketing yourself to potential clients for your dream career – these are all important. Now obviously the urgent needs to happen, but the reason it is important to distinguish between these is because the important activities tend to be put off in favour of the urgent. Which means you are “busy”, but not busy building the life you want. Make sure that your priority items for the day include at least one non-urgent but important activity so that everyday you are taking at least one step in the direction of your dreams.
- Spread those activities out. To add to tip # 2, if your to do list is hundreds of items long, don’t list them all on one day. This may also sound pretty obvious, but again, if there are people in the world who would prefer to store their to do list in their head, you can believe that there are those who list far too many activities on one day in their planner. The rest of the dates of the year are also in that diary for a reason. Spread your to do list realistically over the course of your week or month. Doing this also helps prevent you from overcommitting yourself to more activities than what you can actually get done because you will have some idea of what your entire week or month looks like.
- Plan activities like you plan your meetings. If you use Outlook, it is a great tool for this but any diary or planner with hourly sections will do. Estimate how long it will take you to do an activity, add 15 minutes to half an hour to the allocated time to account for disturbances (like when my jam comes on and I have no option but to get out of my seat and sing along or perform the “Thriller” dance until the end of the song) or the fact that you may just have underestimated how long that damn job would take. Then block off that time in your calendar. Doing this will help you to adequately plan for and determine how many of those “priority” tasks you can do in one day because some projects may take longer than others.
- Make time for planning. One of those tasks that you should block off time for at the beginning and end of each day is planning. At the beginning of the day review your activities for the day so that you know where you are going and what you need to achieve. At the end of the day, review what you have done for the day, give yourself a pat on the back, review or plan your activities for the next day and then go and pour yourself that glass of wine or dish that bowl of ice cream. Because making time to plan your day properly will mean that you will be getting that sherbert done and congratulating yourself on the regular.
- BONUS TIP: On occasion, substitute the wine and ice cream with fruit and nut bowls, massages, spa treatments, holidays, and other exciting goodies in an effort to avoid alcoholism and destroying your healthy diet plan.
Because I don’t want to hear anybody citing this post of HELPFUL tips as the reason that they fell off of any sort of wagon. Kapish?
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