While all of my clients want to learn how to get it all done, many of them have lamented about to-do lists:
“I hate them! They make me feel trapped.”
“They are never-ending!!”
There are different components to creating a to-do list system: deciding what goes on there, implementing a format that allows you to be successful, creating a list you can actually complete, and using a system that you don’t detest.
I address the first three components in other blogs. In this blog, we’ll address the last component: how to cope with despising a to-do list system.
If you’ve ever thought ill about task lists, prepare to readjust your mindset.
Celebrate the fact that you have so much to do for your job! The day you have caught up on your lists of things to do and you have zero items in your task system for the week, the month, the year – is the day your job is obsolete. So if you have a ton of things to do at work and your lists are never-ending, high five!
Next, let’s look at: “I hate them! They make me feel trapped.”
The purpose of to-do lists is to help us remember what we need to get it all done. Ideally, we have listed the absolutely critical steps we need to take that day in order to improve our personal life or work life – or at least keep some part of our life above water. A to-do list should feel freeing because you’ve decided on your priorities for the day and will do what it takes to make them happen. When you complete your priorities, you lower your stress levels and increase your confidence and sense of accomplishments, which motivates you to stay productive. If you call that feeling trapped, then I want to feel trapped!
Once you’ve come to terms with these two negative perspectives, then your brain will be open to logically examining your current task list system….
…Because the third step in no longer despising your to-do list is to set aside quality time to nurture your relationship with it.
People who dislike their to-do list system are either using a format that isn’t conducive to their skills or needs (we address this factor in the “Choose the Perfect Format” blog) so they need to break up with what’s not working and start a new relationship, or they’re not using time estimation so they create totally impossible lists to accomplish (see my blog on “How to Get To Do Lists Done” for help with this), or they’re not having a daily meetup with their to do list. Your relationship with your to-do list is like any other relationship in your life: if you don’t make time for it, the relationship will fizzle. Make a daily date with your to do list (or task system or task document); interact with it; determine what your best next steps will be.
When you reframe any negativity you have toward to-do lists and take a logical look at your relationship with them, you’ll find that they’re not so bad after all. This will help you to get it all done.
Remember, time management is all about mind management. You do have the power to tell your time what to do!