Lots of bright, energetic, successful people aren’t operating anywhere within their sphere of peak capacity because they don’t manage time efficiently. And the more they strive to organize themselves, the less organized they remain.
The culprit orchestrating this time thievery is most often the “to do” list. Those devoted to such lists record what needs to be done today, tomorrow, the day after, next week, ad infinitum – an endlessly growing protoplasm of sorts that never stops reproducing.
When everything on the list is perceived as a priority, then of course, nothing winds up being a priority; and the mere length of the list is so intimidating that it invites inertia. Worse, listing things becomes an end in and of itself, creating the false impression that some kind of action has been taken.
I’m an advocate for giving the “to do” list a break, here’s how:
- Record anything you believe you must do, personal or professional, into a physical calendar of some sort. Assign a date and time for completion and treat it as sacrosanct, that is, outside of some acute emergency, it will get done.
- Set a maximum of five or six tasks as a daily limit and tweak completion of these to match your life style. Determine when you’re at your “output best” and work hardest then. Morning? Afternoon? Early evening?
- Don’t set your sights on completing any one task in a singular time frame. Mix and shift task completion to stave off boredom and distraction by “chunking” them down. You’ll feel less overwhelmed when writing a lengthy report if you write in 30 minute segments. If you’re seeking referral business and have 20 prospects, call four of them per day over a five-day span.
It’s accurate to say that making lists and crossing out completed items provides a sense of accomplishment, but if you’re intent on increasing your efficiency, lists will inevitably bog you down and hang around your neck like an albatross.
I do think lists are a good idea for supermarket shopping though.