TO DO lists, when done right, can be a massive help in creating the life you want as easily as possible. However, done wrong they can be a hinderance at best and and impossibly overwhelming mass of tasks at worst.
I wanted to look today at the 7 most common TO DO list mistakes people often make, and give solutions as to how to stop doing them.
Why not take a look through and see how many you may be doing right now…
MISTAKE #1 – TREATING YOUR TO DO LIST AS A BRAIN DUMP
Your initial creation of a TO DO list may well be a brain dump – as that’s how you can know for sure that everything you need to get done is on it.
But it shouldn’t stay that way for long….
There should be some sort of organising done to your list to ensure that you can easily see what’s what, you can keep track of things, and nothing is missed.
So many people don’t sort their list out, and it stays an overwhelming mess that’s not fit for purpose…
— HOW TO FIX IT?
Start looking at your TO DO list as a help rather than a hinderance to you.
I use a system of 3 areas that TO DOs can go, and each one has a very specific role in it (which I will talk about in more detail in another post). That system consists of a MASTER TO DO list, a NICE TO DO list and my DIARY.
Instead of just adding everything to one list with no reasoning behind it, I add each task into one of these 3 places, in an ordered way.
- Anything with a deadline set goes straight in my diary with time to spare before the deadline (life happens!)
- Anything that I’d love to do, but won’t really affect my life if I don’t do them, gets added to the NICE TO DO list, and I have categories in this list so I can see more easily what I have on there.
- Anything else should be something that I need to do but that has no real deadline to it. These get put onto my MASTER TO DO list in specific categories or project headers, so I can keep track again of where I am with everything.
Much more organised – and really easy to keep track I’m sure you agree…
MISTAKE #2 – BEING REACTIVE RATHER THAN PROACTIVE
Do you decide on what to tackle on your TO DO list depending on how urgent things are?
Yes, things that are timely should be tackled first, but the only reason they are on your MASTER TO DO list are because they didn’t have a deadline when you wrote them down there (otherwise they would have gone straight into your DIARY – see #1).
As such, it means that you should have plenty of time to deal with things before they become urgent.
If you are leaving things on your TO DO list until you are forced to get them done (being reactive), then this can be incredibly stressful and tiring. You will always feel rushed, and have to find time to get things done when there isn’t any necessarily.
— HOW TO FIX IT?
Get into the habit of moving items from your MASTER TO DO LIST into your diary on a daily/weekly basis, and ideally in the order that they will make the most difference to you (proactive) rather than because you have to.
It’s so much more free-ing to run your life rather than feel like it’s being run for you…
MISTAKE #3 – HAVING ONE LONG LIST
As I briefly mentioned above, one long list that’s being added to each and every day can be so overwhelming.
You won’t know what’s important, and you will no doubt lose things within that massive list, not a great way to be.
— HOW TO FIX IT?
It’s a really easy fix, but creating categories and sorting these sections out makes all the difference.
For example – you may have several TO DO’s on your list all based around things you need to buy for your home, or sort out within your home. You could create a title on your MASTER TO DO list of “Home Shopping” and then have all the items grouped below this. Then another category of “Home One Off Jobs” and have all those listed below that.
You can see then exactly what you have to get done and can get to it much more easily. For example, how much better would it be to sit down and see a smaller list of shopping and be able to focus on that when you have time to look online for items than it would be to have to sort through the whole list?
Can you see yourself in any of these 3 so far? I hope that some of the fixes have given you ideas that will make all the difference.
Let’s keep going for the last 4 – who knows what will crop up!…