Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tips for Crushing Your To-Do List

Lately (as in the last couple of weeks), I've been finding it very hard to finish up everything I have on my ever-expanding to-do list. Every time that my tasks pile up to an enormous amount, I tend to shut down in a sense. Like I have no idea where to even begin, so my brain kinda goes into this trance like state + I abandon all motivation to finish anything, let alone everything. Then I spend my free time (time that could have involved being productive) lollygagging around; watching Netflix, scouring around Pinterest for new recipe ideas or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. The day draws to an end, I look around at the things that were not completed and then I get pissed at myself for wasting almost an entire day. Anyone else deal with this nonsense?

I'm all for the occasional lazy day (or mental health days as I so often refer to them as), but when it turns into a lazy week (or weeks in this case), I just can't deal. I feel like I need to get my life together (haha — cue the dramatics). So, in hopes of helping myself and others who are in the same boat, I've compiled a list of strategies for crushing my to-list more effectively.

Break your time into chunks (the 30/10 rule).
I've actually done this in the past and it really helped. Try dividing your work / breaks into a thirty to ten ratio. Spend 30 minutes working diligently, then take a 10 minute break to clear your mind — listen to music, do some stretches, grab more coffee, etc.

Prioritize your tasks.
Instead of looking at your whole to-do list and freaking out about it, try placing the most important tasks at the very top of your list, or writing them down in a different color ink. These are items that must be done within a specific time frame. By doing this, you won't run the risk of wasting precious time doing something that really could have waited another day or two.

Grab some more coffee.
Coffee or highly caffeinated tea will be of much help whenever that midday energy dip hits (unless you have a caffeine allergy or intolerance). I try to limit myself to two cups of coffee a day. After my first cup in the morning, I try to have another around two or three in the afternoon since that's normally when I begin losing momentum. However, everyone is different, so find what works for you! If you aren't fond of coffee or tea, some energy boosting snacks include almonds, bananas, apples, popcorn + yogurt.

Don't be unrealistic with your time frames.
You gotta be real with yourself when it comes to how long it'll take you to complete certain items on your list. I'd recommend overestimating the time for each task rather than cutting yourself short. And don't leave your break times out of your equation. Having a realistic time frame will insure that you won't run out of time (which would obviously cause you more stress).

Put away all distractions.
This one is a biggie, especially after social media + streamable entertainment came onto the scene. If you have things to do that require your undivided attention, try placing your phone on silent or leave it in another room while you're working if you can. Use your 10 minute breaks between tasks to check your notifications, catch up with texting people, or scroll through Pinterest.

Start the day with your most dreadful task (i.e. eat the frog).
In the words of Mark Twain, ❝Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.❞ In other words, if you have a task on your list that you're absolutely dreading, choose to do it first thing in the morning. Once it's out of the way, everything else you have to do will seem like a breeze in comparison. It makes a lot of sense, really.

Don't beat yourself up for tasks left unfinished.
Last, but definitely not least, don't get upset if a few items aren't completed when your day draws to an end. Instead of focusing on the things you weren't able to finish, go over everything that you did accomplish. Focusing on all of the things you were able to knock off your list rather than stressing about what was left undone will be more beneficial to your overall well-being. Trust me!

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