There are some days when I am overwhelmed. I still haven’t learned to only put on my to do list what I can actually do, and I end up feeling down when I don’t complete every item on a Superwoman sized list. I approach my to do list from the standpoint that if it is on there, I have committed to do it…today. This isn’t always feasible, though, and it can build up to the point where I need to revisit the list. I recently needed to scale back my to do list, and here are the ways I did it:
Getting rid of the unnecessary
This is a principle I follow in software design. I try to get rid of the unnecessary until the point where I know I have made the deadline, then I will add things back in. As I looked over my to do list last week, I realized there were a large chunk of items that were not necessary. Some day I would like to get to them, but not now. Keeping them on the to do list was making it harder for me to find the necessary items, plus contributing to the sense of overwhelm.
Some of the items on my list were better served by delegation. Yes, it would be nice if I could find the time to rent an aerator for the lawn, but that’s not going to happen. I need to delegate this out. There are also several items on the list that my shopper could do for me. It’s time to add them on to her list.
Removing Non-efficient Items
This one is subtly different than eliminating unnecessary items. These are the items that are not the best way to do things. You can pound a nail with a shoe, but it’s not the best tool for the job. One example on my list, “Send quarterly letters to [xxxx]”, was better served by sending an email to multiple people. The other “wash car” was better done (and more environmental, given the Wash’s reuse of wash water) by using the local car wash.
Know Your Limits
Sometimes I don’t have the energy to tackle a mountainous to do list. This past week was a good example of that. Floored by three continuous days of a sinus/migraine, I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I needed to back off items from the list and consider my physical state. There are times, too, when I am loaded down with meetings. On those days it is not helpful for me to load my task list down.
If your to do list has turned into a major point of procrastination, it might be good to consider scaling back. Don’t let it make you feel guilty, but get the list back to a point where you will DO it, and you will get more DONE.