Consign your to-do list to the ash heap of history

To-do lists. This topic is truly timeless. Often literally so – for when will you ever get through it all? It’s a source of anguish for so many – with tasks lurking in dark clouds over our shoulders in a threatening, yet strangely non-specific way.

Here is the most effective way I know to get rid of your list.

For each item, identify the first doable step it requires you to take, figure out how long that step should take you, when it is due and put it on your calendar. For example, say that first step will take about a half hour and it isn’t needed for a week or so, then I might slate it for next Tuesday at noon. Done. Come Tuesday at noon it will get taken care of. By giving it a time certain, your brain will say to itself: that is under control now and I know it will get done on Tuesday, so I can forget about it till then. AND TAKE IT OFF THAT OLD LIST.

As you go through your dwindling list you will be prioritizing – some could be scheduled for a month or more away if that makes sense. Some may be delegated so the first step may simply be an email to the appropriate person to get on it and a further calendar entry of when to check in on them. Easy-peasy, right? Everything has its time and everything will get taken care of and you needn’t worry your sweet head about any free-floating responsibilities.

Do this for all tasks on your list and for all that arise going forwards, and your calendar has now become your to do list. And your to-do list has become history.

Here are some more drivers that can get motivate you to get going on a task:

  1. It’ll be fun to do it.
  2. It’s so easy to get started on it and it will feel good.
  3. I can get someone else to do it.
  4. I really, really want to get it done.
  5. I decide it does not advance me towards my goal – so off the list it goes.

I am sure you can come up with more that will work for you.

Letʼs explore the “fun” reason for a moment. So I need a new website/new sales rep/new clients/a new gig – sounds like a slog; whereʼs the fun in that one? Here are some prompts to help you find your fun: itʼs fun talking to new people. Itʼs fun learning how different companies work. Itʼs fun to imagine yourself in a new place with a whole new team. It’s fun developing something just the way you way you want it to be…over to you to build your own list of what makes things fun for you.

So, back to those items languishing accusingly on your to-do list. Put them on your calendar, find the fun in them, or get someone else to do them; choose the way that will get results for you. Because a to-do list is worse than worthless if you never do the things on it. You need never have a timeless to-do list again.