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STEP 4 – Group items together in projects
Projects seems a grand term for this really, but it seems to work for me (maybe that’s my corporate background coming to light again!).
Everything in your life will fit into a certain area, whether it be general home, general work, a specific project you are dealing with at that time, to buys, errands, calls to make, websites to look at etc…..
If you group your TO DOs into the “projects” that make sense to you, then you can start making sense of the projects!
Whatever your areas are, have a heading for each, and fit your items into the correct heading – see the example for more details:-
An added bonus to this is that you can see much more easily if anything relies on anything else for it to get done – so you can start to prioritise what comes first in each project as well. There’s nothing worse than trying to cross something off your list and finding that something else had to be done first.
Straight away now you should be feeling more confident when you look at your list – as you can focus on different things and start to see that they can be accomplished.
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STEP 5 – Tackle the easy wins
The last step to organising and making sense of your TO DO list is to tackle the items on the list that really are easy wins.
Things that take 5 minutes or less to finish are fantastic easy wins to get your list down to the bare minimum as quickly as possible.
Most of us can find 5 minutes here and there in our days – or even while doing other things:-
- Calls could be made when walking to the school pickup, or while waiting for a kettle to boil.
- Errands can be done when we are in town anyway for something else.
- Websites can be looked at when we are relaxing in the evening, or even in our lunch break if you work
- Bills can be paid online quickly usually nowadays.
When I have a blitz of my TO DO list I try and tackle all the quick wins in a week – which really motivates me! – It’s so nice to see things get crossed off one after the other!
You could simply star those items that you are going to fit in that week and keep the list with you diary, or (as I do), add a few to each day in my diary so that I can see how many I can fit into the day without stressing myself (some have more than others).
By the end of the week you should have a much more manageable TO DO list, with everything in projects, and in priority order – ready to tackle when you can.
So you can see here in this example I’ve been able to quite easily go from 29 TO DOs in a random order, to 11 TO DOs in a logical layout and grouping – what do you prefer?
NB – I’ve kept the project titles in even if they don’t have anything in them at the moment, as this is now a working TO DO list and things will be added as they come in – so its always worth having the projects ready to go!
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Getting to grips with your TO DO list is fundamental to staying in control of your time and your stress levels. If you can get into the habit of using your TO DO list alongside your diary, regularly reviewing it, and allocating a time to do each one, then your life as a whole will be a lot easier.
You will be able to see when you will possibly need help or struggle to get something done in time, and be able to utilise any down time much more productively – and what could be better than that!
The trick now is to keep allocating the next TO DO in each project to a time slot in your diary – keep scheduling those TO DOs and gradually the list will fade.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you can ever completely get rid of a TO DO list, but you can manage it much better and keep it under control!
Let me know how you get on in the comments below, and if you want to learn even more about TO DO lists then why not CLICK HERE to see why I think a Master TO DO list works best!