Most of us have been there—it’s time to tackle your work week and your to-do list is staring back at you from your notebook or phone. 👀
Nothing is checked off and you don’t even know where you want to start!
Should you cross off that one large task? How about just eating a snack real quick? Do you even need to write that one task down? (You’ve already convinced yourself you’ll “just remember” it.)
Before you know it, your to-do list becomes testy and feels more like a hellion than a helper to accomplish all your tasks.
But before you throw it all out the window (which could actually be a good solution…), take a deep breath and calm that common frustration that occurs when, as more and more work piles onto your plate, your system for tracking it all breaks down.
Sometimes it’s about going back to basics. Here are some tried and true methods to help you 👏🏽clap back 👏🏽at the chaos and get those big and small goals checked off your CVS-receipt-long to do-list .
Write It Down. Write It All Down.
Making a mental note isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be. The best way to tackle your to-do list? Actually make one!
Sometimes those thoughts floating around in your head are reason enough as to why you’re stressed. Write it all down, from beginning to end, of what needs to be done so you can finally “feel” done.
If you’re feeling stuck on where to start, try jotting down mundane tasks like, “take shower” or “eat snack” so you can create momentum and feel great about checking things off stat!
For those times when your list isn’t available, be sure to have a digital version handy for when you realize your gorilla suit needs to be dry cleaned. Transfer and record your to-do’s to a Trello board whether at your desk or on the go and sleep easy.
Check It Twice: Naughty Or Nice?
The ultimate clap back is reorganizing your to-do list altogether. Many times we like to list out XL tasks in the same way we list our XS tasks—It’s time to 👏🏽break 👏🏽it 👏🏽down.
First rule: Not all tasks are created equal. Having, “Cook dinner” next to “Create Monthly Report” or “Buy Gorilla suit” doesn’t exactly work as they all require completely different amounts of time and labor. Use the t-shirt sizing technique to assign “size” values of time and effort per task to gain better perspective on what can be done in 5 minutes versus 5 hours.
Then, rather than being daunted by a large task like “Cook Sunday Family Dinner”, break the task down into smaller, key parts. For example, making a meal now looks just like the recipe you’re about to cook:
◻️Prep vegetables the night before
◻️Clean the pots
◻️Set the table
It’s way more digestible (hopefully, just like your dinner) and gives you a more realistic timeline of what to expect with that specific task.
Many Hands Make Light Work
Speaking of more complex tasks, complexity can always be eased with some much-needed help. Being able to share your tasks with a partner, roommate, or friend not only accomplishes the obvious of getting things done quicker, but it reinforces relationships.
Known as the “Ben Franklin” effect and thanks to a little cognitive dissonance, asking for favors actually makes you more favorable in the eyes of other people!
Communicating that you’re going to need some assistance doesn’t come easily to us all. And then actually delegating these tasks is a whole other battle.
I recently insisted I could finish a massive deadline, start wedding planning, and re-organize my apartment all in one week. Thankfully, my friends shut that down real quick and helped me rework my to-do list so that instead of being alone to accomplish it all, everyone took a chunk.
At work, this might look like….
Using a method of task prioritization that includes an option for delegation, like the Eisenhower Matrix (which I’ll get into next), will make it easier to think from the perspective that some things on your to-do list would probably be better suited for someone else’s.
Is it easy? No.
Is it worth it? Most definitely.
Eisenhower It Up
Speaking of the Eisenhower matrix: This clever framework was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a system to help keep himself (and the country) in order while he was in the Oval Office.
Separating your tasks by level of urgency and seeing where they fit can help you dictate what gets worked on first and what tasks you can forget about all together (no, you can’t get rid of ALL your tasks.)
The matrix puts your tasks into 4 categories:
- Do First: Tasks that need immediate attention and are likely tied with a deadline.
- Do Later: Tasks are still a priority but are not tied to a deadline or to another task.
- Delegate: Tasks that you could possibly delegate to someone else you trust, as these tasks are still urgent but may require less attention
- Eliminate: Tasks that don’t need to be tasks...today. It’s things you’d like to do but don’t need to do.
Channel your presidential spirit and keep your duties calm, cool, and effective.
Source Credit: Eisedo
Most Importantly, Treat Yourself
Not when you're done—in between tasks! What’s better motivation than taking a break or a bite of that cookie is on the horizon once you’ve completed a portion of your to-do list? Getting overwhelmed is nothing a treat can’t solve.
Or take a page out of this Trello user’s genius playbook. When he moves a card to his “Done” list, it is integrated to his home automation system and a spectacular light show occurs in celebration.
Adding a dash of fun to my @trello workflow board using my 'Done' list to trigger 'Ode to joy', Hue lighting effects & an #Alexa routine (result at 1 min 8 secs). Why you ask? Well, why not 😊#IFTTT #Smarthome #Smartthings #Trello @tweethue #projectmanagement #TuesdayMotivation pic.twitter.com/OBdhdcBwgK— MAB (@mabstrategy1) February 26, 2019
Your to-do list can be tamed, and before you know it: