“To-Do” doesn’t have to mean “Too much to do!”

Tackling your to-do list can feel empowering and productive, or it can feel overwhelming and stressful. Sometimes both emotions can co-exist when considering the tasks on the list. Having an ongoing, running list of things that never seems to get done and which only grows and grows can sap the energy and positive attitude of even the most productive of people.

One of the things that can help get your to-do list under control and make it more manageable is to segment your list. If your list is just page after page of tasks of all kinds intermingled together, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to figure out what takes priority and requires action immediately, versus what can be dealt with at a later time. Breaking your list down into chunks helps make the unmanageable manageable.

Breaking your list into segments helps prioritize and will save you time and effort. How you decide to categorize your list is very individual and will depend upon your daily schedule, your pre-established priorities, and your energy level at any given time of the day. Your most demanding tasks should ideally be scheduled for your peak energy level time – are you a morning “lark”? Stuff that requires intensive brain work should be a priority for early in the day. Night “owl”? Schedule your heavy thinking for after most of the rest of the world goes to sleep!

How to break down your list? Some ideas for categories to follow. Just remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. Find your “sweet spot” – how your brain likes to categorize stuff – and start from there!

Priority categories:

  • “To Do Today”
  • “To Do This Week”
  • “To Do This Month”
  • “Whenever, If Ever”

Action categories for home:

  • “Call/Email”
  • “Errands”
  • “Groceries”
  • “Kids”
  • “Home” – repairs, improvements, projects, etc.

Action categories for work:

  • “Call/Email”
  • “Write”
  • “Financial”
  • “Report”

Brainstorming categories – a parking place for future projects, dreams, business development ideas.

For inspiration: consider Joshua Becker’s3-Item To-Do List.
A new way of minimalistic thinking that actually gets more done with less stress!

When you look at that huge, run-on list of tasks, you will begin to see some categories that immediately pop out. Others may take some thinking. And others may have lingered so long that you realize that they don’t matter anymore, or perhaps that someone else can do them (delegation is an art!) Sometimes we just keep things on our task list out of guilt, or routine. You may find, after some thought, that your list can be shortened. Whatever you decide, break your to-do’s down into smaller, more manageable chunks, and you will begin to find some rhythm in your days and some daylight in your schedule.

Lisa Griffith

About The Author

Lisa Griffith is a speaker and consultant who provides services, both on-site and virtually, to help busy professionals organize their offices, systems and calendars. In addition to business and home office organizing, productivity and time management coaching, she provides workshops & seminars for business and community groups.