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Declutter your to-do list and become more productive

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Helen Hoart

Sometimes you just have to admit you can’t do it all.  It happens especially when our to-do list creeps onto a second page and continually nags us about all the undone things in our lives. 

The outcome:  we can feel paralyzed; nothing gets done. 

The first step is to focus on what’s most important and what will really make a difference in your life.  To-do lists can become cluttered because we put everything on them from major projects at work to picking up the dry cleaning on the way home. 

Learn to Prioritize   When you set priorities and ask yourself the question what will really make a difference in my life, some of the to-do list clutter starts to disappear.  Of course, many of us like to keep “pick up the dry cleaning” on our list because we know we can get that done.  

One strategy: have a list for life’s everyday tasks—get the dry cleaning, pick up milk, etc.  That way you won’t let something slip.  But you’re not giving those tasks more importance than they deserve.  They’re errands not major projects.

Then create a list of the important things that you have to do—the tasks that will give you a sense of accomplishment and move you forward in your career and life. 

Often, we let major projects overwhelm us because of the sheer size and scope.  When you feel that happening, break a project into smaller parts--whether it's cleaning out the basement or creating a new marketing plan.  

For example, if it’s cleaning out the basement, your first task could be to organize the holiday decorations into one area or take the old electronic equipment to be recycled.  If it’s creating a new marketing plan, you could start by reviewing the last five marketing campaign, pinpointing successes and failures.  Go one step at time.  And don’t forget to give yourself a mental health break and a pat on the back when your finish each subtask.

Delegate  Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  If the house needs to be cleaned but you have a dozen other family and work responsibilities, hire a cleaning service.  Services like these, whether it’s cleaning, dog walking or detailing your car, can free you up to concentrate on the important things. 

Life’s too short to let our to-do list paralyze us.  Concentrate on the big, important tasks and the others will get done too.


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