A Never Ending To Do List

I used to work with a woman who loved to make lists. She created endless pages of everything that needed to be done, and more pages of things she and her team were working on.

At first, we were all in awe. She seemed so on-top of what would be required to succeed. However, our awe quickly turned into frustration as week after week she reported more additions to the list, but never seemed to complete anything. I will never forget the day our CEO stopped her as she rattled through another long list of to-dos.

He cleared his throat to get her attention and then he said, “I am sorry to interrupt, but please don’t overwhelm us with everything you think you have to do. We want to be overwhelmed by what you’ve finished.”

The room was quiet and so was she. Then the excuses started. They were as long as the list of to-do’s. A few weeks later she quit.

It was a great lesson to me. “We want to be overwhelmed by what you’ve finished” comes back to me again and again.

Months later I became a productivity consultant. Now, I spend my time teaching The 5 Choices of Productivity. These choices help me to remember that this life isn’t about getting hung up on all the things I should do. It is about choosing the most important things, aligning them with my highest priorities, and getting them done! Knowing the 5 Choices has freed me from the long lists I used to make.

Now I am more likely to set my sights on my most important “To-Do’s”, carving time and space into my schedule so I can accomplish them. I find great satisfaction in my smaller more targeted lists. These days, I’m not feeling overwhelmed. Instead, I feel on task. Working diligently to complete a few goals at a time makes me feel accomplished and energized.

Contributed by Suzette Blakemore, Regional Productivity Practice Leader, FranklinCovey

Avoiding Procrastination

How much time do you spend worrying about what you should have already done? Procrastinating is a surefire way to increase your stress, lower your energy and obliterate your productivity.

If you are prone to procrastination, here are some tips for approaching “to-dos” differently.

  • Create a master task list of all the things you need to accomplish.
  • Circle or check the MOST IMPORTANT things on your list and plug them right into your calendar. Doing this will give them a time and space in your schedule. When you leave them on the task list, you are always looking for a time to get them done.
  • Do the things that you like to do the least, first! Once they are done, you won’t be prone to make excuses about moving on to finish the other things on your list that you don’t mind doing.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist. Challenge yourself to finish, first. If revisions are required, go back and do them later.
  • Engage in daily and weekly planning. Sit down with your master task list once per week. Review everything on your list and move the important things onto your calendar. At the end of the day, review what you accomplished. If you missed something, give it a new time and date.
  • Once you’ve completed something that was hard for you to do, stop and notice how great it feels to have it done. Compare this to how you would feel if it were still hanging out there.

Over the years, I have learned that nothing is ever as easy or as hard as I think it will be. Knowing this, makes it easier to start the things I am wary about. In the end, completion of  anything is one of the best feelings in the world.

Contributed by Suzette Blakemore, Regional Productivity Practice Leader, FranklinCovey