Mistakes Youre Making With Your To-Do List

Morning dawns and the race to accomplish the host of tasks on your to-do list begins.  Your list of must-do activities propels you through your day, but is it steering you in the right direction?

Streamline your life by eliminating these mistakes you might be making with your to-do list:

Not writing it all down

Don’t force your brain to recall each item on your list.  As you go through your day, your gray matter may be further taxed by needing to reprioritize everything on your calendar.

Grab a pen and paper.  Write down the entirety of your activities for the day so that nothing falls through the cracks.

Not estimating the time you need

It’s easy to create an overly-ambitious list for the day.  Without knowing that you’ve thrown too much onto your plate, you could fail to finish some critical items.

Jot down how much time you reasonably expect to spend on each to-do list item before you start tackling your list.  Beware of being overly optimistic, as you could dramatically underestimate the time you require.

Neglecting three of the four D’s

If you want to do the important items on your list but realize that you don’t have time for it all, embrace these three D’s:  Delete tasks that are unnecessary.  Delegate items that someone else can handle adequately.  Defer non-urgent activities for a later date.

Whittle today’s list down to your essentials.

Not prioritizing your tasks

Identifying what has to stay on today’s to-do list and what can move to tomorrow’s (or next week’s) requires you to prioritize everything you’ve written down.

What is important?  What is urgent?  What is merely a distraction?  Rank each of your day’s activities to give you an ordered list of what to tackle when.

Not scheduling the fun stuff

Your list shouldn’t include just the drudgery of life.  Think beyond minutiae like picking up the dry cleaning and taking out the trash.  If it’s important to relax with family, exercise, or pick up a good book, write it down!

Make time for yourself and your personal life.

Missing the big picture

What’s the point of your to-do list?  What’s the reason that you’re crossing off tasks day after day?  Each item on your list should move you toward a goal – whether that’s having meaningful relationships, finding success at work, or keeping your kitchen from turning into a breeding ground for dirty dishes.

Connect each activity to a goal.  (If you can’t, consider deleting it!)  Seeing your task as part of a bigger picture will motivate you to make it happen.

Not reviewing your day

Did you cross off each item on your list?  If not, what held you back?  Maybe you underestimated the time you needed, didn’t feel motivated to tackle a particular item, or ran into external complications.

Learn from what went wrong so that tomorrow’s plan is stronger.  At the same time, celebrate your successes!  You’ve inched along – or possibly even taken a huge stride – toward accomplishing your goals today!

What’s holding back your to-do list?

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