Emerge and Spread Your Wings

How Do You To Do?

In the past I have used my To Do list as a brain dump. “Oh I mustn’t forget that, I’ll put it on THE list”. My list grew and I never got to the bottom of it. As my teen would say, “Well duh!” I would beat myself up over not getting everything done and make judgement on how I’d used the rest of my time, which of course must have been on frivolous, non-meaningful things such as stopping to eat afternoon tea, or reading a book for relaxation and pleasure” (My inner voice is often sarcastic). And a vicious cycle developed because of course there are always more tasks to add to THE list, and always choices I need to make over how I use my time.

So I stopped. No, not the To Do list, but how I use it. I still have a brain dump list – because it doesn’t serve me to hold everything in my head. But I no longer use the list willy nilly. I have a daily planner on which I choose my 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) for home and for work. I set those as my priority. If I get through those 6 tasks I judge the day as one I can be pleased with. I now more carefully estimate how long a task might take to allow some wriggle room for the inevitable such as sick kids, and urgent referral or a spontaneous meeting with a friend. I carry a list of “would be nice to get done” tasks that can be added if the time allows.

There are as many planning styles as there are people who plan. Some people allow time in the evenings to set their MITs for the next day, while others prefer to look fresh at things each morning. Being clear about what your priorities are for your day first, before checking emails or messages seems to be an effective strategy. It can be easy to get sucked into what other people feel is urgent. Saying “No” or “I’ll get back to you once I’ve checked my schedule” can also be valuable strategies.

So, how about today you reflect on how you “To Do” and whether it is working for you? Don’t let your list become a big stick or a reminder of your “failures”. If your To Do system isn’t benefiting you, take a fresh look and I’d love to hear what you come up with.