Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
We all get buried in our tasks lists from time to time. I find that if I am not vigilant about keeping up the list, I end up with an avalanche every month. Luckily, it is fairly easy to get out from under an overwhelming task list.
Step 1: Delete
It may be tempting to start from scratch, but the best way to get a task list in shape is to start with the one you have and evaluate each item.
For each item, ask yourself if it really needs to be done. Most of the things that clutter up tasks lists are those things we might want to do, or things that are completely unnecessary. Delete liberally.
Another category of task items are things that other people want us to do. If you don’t want to do something that someone else has placed on you, delete it.
Step 2: Delegate
If something has to be done, the next question to ask is if it has to be done by you. For those things that can be safely delegated to someone else, do so. If it is a matter of getting outside help, or asking a friend or family member, consider doing it.
Step 3: Examine The Source
Once you have cleaned out your task list, you need to make sure it will stay as clean as possible. One of the ways to do that is to examine how things get placed on the list to begin with. Since most people don’t have a task list elf that magically puts things on our lists at night, we have to take responsibility for what goes on the list.
What Goes On
When you put something on the task list, make sure you have enough detail that you know what you need to do. “Call John Doe” is not acceptable. “Call John Doe at 555-1212 to schedule gutter estimate” is much better. A good rule of thumb is to ask if someone else could complete the task based on what is listed. If not, maybe you can’t either.
If you are trying to build a habit, consider putting it on your task list. There are some that will disagree with this approach, but I am suggesting this only for habits you are in the process of building. Old habits don’t belong on the list.
What Stays Off
Things you have already ingrained as habit don’t belong on the list. Do you really need to put “get dressed” on your task list? I hope that it is something you do, regardless of whether or not it is on a list. Many people clutter up their task lists so that they can have the high of crossing a lot of stuff off every day. But all that does is clutter the field of vision.
Items that don’t need to be done shouldn’t go on either. Keep the junk off. Along those lines, ideas and future goals shouldn’t go on. Anything that is on the task list represents a commitment to action. Needless items, ideas and future goals do not fall into this classification.
Getting back in control of your task list isn’t difficult. A bit of housecleaning is easy. Just remember: just like laundry, a task list needs regular attention to keep it manageable.
Photo by egarc2