Or, how to actually get things done!
When confronted with a to-do list, a lot of people get stuck in analysis paralysis mode. Overthinking so hard and so long that they don’t get anything done. "Which should I do first? Which will have the greatest impact?"
Being unable to decide, they end up back on the couch. Kicking themselves for their lack of productivity.
They think they want to be more productive, but what they really want is a better system to prioritize so they can stop overthinking.
This is the system I’ve been using for years. I’ve recommended it to clients and friends, and now I’m offering it to you for free because you deserve to feel successful and accomplished. (Of course if you want to talk about it, my virtual door is always open!)
When you look at your to-do list, as yourself these four questions:
1. Which task has the earliest (soonest) deadline?
If anything on your to-do list needs to be done by a certain day or time, do that one first. Then it’s out of the way, and you can stop devoting mental energy to worrying about it.
2. Which task has the most important dependencies?
Once the deadlines are out of the way, then you want to look for any tasks that are interconnected in such a way that one can’t be done until another one is.
Like, if you want to fix that squeaky cabinet door, but you need to buy a screwdriver in order to be able to fix it. The cabinet door task is depending on the buying a screwdriver task. So you want get that dependency cleared quickly, which then takes even more pressure and mental labor out of your to-do list. Go buy that metaphorical screwdriver!
3. Which task will bring you the greatest joy?
Joy is such a powerful motivator! When we do things that we enjoy, we get a burst of energy within us—one which will actually make it easier to get the remaining tasks on our to-do list done, even if we don’t enjoy them nearly as much.
So when all of the pressures of deadlines and dependencies have been cleared from your list, prioritize what brings you happiness and satisfaction!
4. Which task will most reduce your distress?
Let’s go back to the squeaky cabinet door for a sec. There are some things in our lives that just really irk us. Every time we encounter them we feel a little jolt of irritation. That’s actually a stress response, and even though it’s a small one it can take a real toll on our mind and body over time. So getting those done and out of the way will incrementally improve your quality of life, physical health, and mental wellness!
Because you’ll know that the most important ones have already been taken care of, and anything more that you do will be gravy!
If you're stuck on number one, check out this post that can help you find the motivation you need to get started.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the very thought of your to-do list, get Reclaiming Hope.