When your to-do list is spiraling out of control, you might feel like there’s nothing that you can do. After all, you’ve done what all of the productivity experts tell you to do — you have a list of tasks that you need to complete, but that list never really seems to shrink does it? That’s because you don’t have deadlines.
The inherent weakness of an open ended list is that you are going to have times where you really don’t have a way to actually move items off your list in a timely fashion. If you know that you have all of the time in the world to complete something, then you’re really not going to be in a hurry to do it. You’ll just roll it over to the next day and keep on chugging. Yet when we add a deadline to an assignment, there’s something new added to the mix: pressure.
Now we feel compelled to finish the to-do list as it stands.
Of course, aside from deadlines, you want to make sure that there’s a level of accountability. Yes, it is possible to set deadlines upon deadlines, but if there are no consequences for missing the target date and/or time, then you’ll keep your old habits.
Another point that you might want to think about is the idea of taking your to-do list online. Instead of keeping a paper list, you should try to keep one on your cell phone or even on the Internet directly. Better yet, if you sign up with some of the major Internet services that offer to-do lists, you can actually sync it with your phone and your phone’s calendar. Most smartphones can set alarms when certain tasks are due; making it very useful for just about everyone that finds themselves with a lot of things on their to-do list.
Even though we hate to admit it as a group, the truth is that we can’t do everything in life by ourselves. There are times where you’re going to have to reach out and ask for help with your to-do, but don’t worry — you’re definitely in good company. Studies have shown that the most effective leaders around are masters at delegating tasks to skilled assistants. They don’t try to just do everything and anything that comes through the day — that only puts more pressure on them that isn’t necessary.
Overall, these tips should help you tame your to-do list in virtually no time at all!