Have you ever noticed how your to-do list just seems to be getting bigger and bigger with each passing day? No matter how many items you cross off, you can always come up with something else that needs to get done.
Couple that with the “achieve” mentality we tend to have in Western culture and it’s no wonder people respond with “I’m so stressed!” or “I’m so busy!” when you ask them how they are doing. It’s almost as if “busy-ness” is a badge of honor, but how many of us are actually proud of always being busy?
Clients come to me constantly stressed out over their to-do lists. Usually they’ve got several post-it notes or a very long Evernote file filled to the brim with stuff that needs to get done. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that are actually better and more effective than a big to-do list.
Delegating refers to handing off tasks to someone else so you can focus on more important stuff. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how resistant people are to giving up control and asking for help.
If done correctly, delegating can save you a lot of time and keep your stress levels down. And by the way, delegating tasks doesn’t just refer to your career or business. You can also delegate anything from grocery shopping with Instacart to standing in line at the DMV with TaskRabbit at affordable prices.
Try Desire Mapping
Desire Mapping refers to a system internet entrepreneur Danielle LaPorte came up with in an effort to help people create goals aligned with their values. She has you determine your Core Desired Feelings (the three or four ways you most want to feel in life) and then make decisions based on that.
The first step is to actually read the book so you understand the theory and do the exercises to help you determine your Core Desired Feelings. Then you can actually get the planner which helps you create your to-do list according to how you most want to feel that day.
I’ve been Desire Mapping (both by reading the book and using the planner), and it’s changed the way I look at my to-do list. The most revolutionary thing about The Desire Map is that it helps you get rid of stuff you don’t really want to do. It also helps you get hyper-focused on what matters to you.
Write Your Morning Pages
Morning Pages refers to an exercise found in The Artist’s Way. All you do is free-write first thing in the morning. You dump everything going through your head onto paper—including your to-do list.
This list helps you clear your mind and prioritize all the thoughts going through your head. This is especially helpful if you’re prone to waking up with the stress of your to-do list weighing your mind and body down.
The Bullet Journal is like the Spark Notes version of long journal entries. It’s a method of productivity by which you take a notebook and “rapid log” your notes, tasks and events.
Rather than writing things out in long form, The Bullet Journal method helps you prioritize and get organized by using symbols to signify an entry. For example, tasks are represented by a “dot” whereas an “O” represents events. If something is of high priority, you put an asterisk next to it.
What results is journal entries where you can clearly see what something is, how important it is in comparison to everything else, and whether or not it’s gotten done. It takes a while to learn the symbols so the lovely people at Bullet Journal have a guide to help you.
To-do lists don’t need to be very alarming or never-ending. By using these practices to clear your head and get organized you can cut out tasks that don’t matter, prioritize the important stuff and actually become more productive.