Many people run in circles with their to-do list and cannot make any progress checking things off their list. They feel frustrated and like they cannot get off the to-do list tread mill. What if some of the things you were doing were actually contributing to your never ending to-do list cycle? What if you were actually sabotaging yourself? You may be thinking “that’s impossible, I work hard everyday and do everything I can to get things checked off my to-do list, there’s just not enough time”.
True, time, is one of the only non-renewable resources that we have. There is no way to get it back; each minute that ticks by is another minute you absolutely cannot get back. In life, there are no roll-over minutes or time banks where you can store your time and it gains interest. This is it and we can choose to use our minutes wisely and with our best interests at heart or we can choose to stay on the time tread mill and continue a cycle of running without getting anywhere. What would you rather do?
Here are the most common mistakes I see people making that are contributing to their extended stay on the to-do list tread mill.
1. Keep everything in their head.
One of the first problems is that many people do not have a to-do list at all. Some people say making a list takes too much time, but think of what can happen if you do not have a list. Things get forgotten and do not get done. A list helps you keep track of the important things. The act of checking something off a list can also be gratifying, especially for kinesthetic learners. For visual learners seeing items checked off their to-do list helps drive them forward while offering a feeling of satisfaction.
2. Try to do everything themselves.
If you are like most women juggling a busy work schedule it is easy to think “It will be quicker if I just do it myself”. But if you never get the task done how can it be quicker? Learning how to delegate can become one of your biggest time savers and best ways to quickly get things off your list. How much is your time worth per hour and how much would it cost to get an assistant or co-worker to help you for a few hours a week? Make a list of all the administrative tasks you do that someone else could do. It may take a little upfront training, writing down the process, or writing a phone script or e-mail script to answer frequently asked questions, but it will be well worth the time you save down the road.
3. Everything is important.
Have you ever heard the phrase “If everything is important, nothing is important”? Set priorities for your to-do list. Ask yourself “is a deadline associated with this task?” if so write it next to the item on your to-do list. Then ask yourself “how important is it that this task get done?” There are often things we would like to do, but it is not important if it gets done or not. Use these two questions to determine where a task moves in the rankings on your to-do list.
Get off the to-do list treadmill by deleting, delegating, and prioritizing your list. Focus on the tasks that you shine at, are naturally good at, and love to do. Get the other stuff off your list and start focusing on what really counts.