To-Do List and Pocket WatchThe list of things to do is so long that it can be difficult getting to the things that really matter. You know what it’s like to have a long list and have more things that need to be added before you can cross off the tasks you already have. Things get jammed up because you’re not organized, don’t know how to manage it all and if you’ve got productivity challenges or habits that don’t support you, it makes it even harder. To the point that you give a lot of time to putting out fires and not getting to what matters most.

Add the velocity of life and it’s even more challenging. Usually, people spend time working on things that are important and urgent because time isn’t given to planning, taking advantage of opportunities, and the all-important, highly avoided recreation and relaxation.

It’s time to dissect, clean up and fine tune your to-do list! Start by looking at everything you have on your plate and the things you would like to place on your plate. Make sure to include the things you’ve been walking around with in your head.

Once you’ve got everything listed, mark each item as something that either has to be done right now or something that doesn’t have to be done right now. As you do, keep in mind that you’re tearing apart your list here. The end goal is to only end up having things that are important left on your list, so this means letting go of all the things that don’t fall under that category.

Next, go back through the list and label each task either important or not important. Be very careful here, this is where things can get a bit tricky. Let go of the notion that everything is important, because it’s not. If something’s not related to your big picture, it’s irrelevant. It might be hard to do what I’m going to tell you to do now, but it’s necessary. Draw a line through everything that you’ve designated to be unimportant. Again, remember that you’re cleaning things up. Once you do, you’re only left with the things that matter.

Now that you have a list of only the important things left, you can see which have to be done right now and the ones that don’t because of the labels you gave them earlier. This is your new, fine-tuned to-do list and these are the things that should get your time. Focus on the things that have to be done right now first, then move to the things that aren’t a “right now” thing.

Moving forward, continue to focus on only the things that are important. Create new habits that have you planning and not waiting until the last minute so you have less fires to put out and things aren’t done in haste. You’ll have to face the daily temptation that will come from the things that aren’t relevant, but stay the course! Celebrate your wins, whether they’re big or small and make time for yourself. Continue to constantly and deliberately choose and remember that your focus is to drop the things that aren’t directly in line with the big picture you’re creating.

 

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