Time management tips can double as stress management strategies. Wouldn’t you love to relax while boosting your productivity? It’s easy, because when you use 2 very different kinds of lists together, you actually work less and accomplish far more.
Your 2 time management tools are a very short To Do List, and a very complete Master List.
Your Daily To Do List: Small is Beautiful
What goes on your Daily To Do List? Only the tasks that you truly believe you can successfully accomplish by the end of the day. Generally, this is between three to five tasks, depending on the magnitude.
- If you need to complete part of a large project, only today’s specific action steps appear on your list.
- That means that most days, you can successfully cross off everything that appeared on your list. Think of how satisfying that will be! Don’t you feel more relaxed already?
Your Master List: Detailed to Help You Clear Your Mind
But what about the swirl of commitments that clamor to be taken care of? They all go on your Master List. Everything is recorded here, from replacing the rear wipers on your car to completing a financial analysis by its due date. Keeping this very detailed list, (and keeping it separate from your Daily To Do List,) serves 3 essential functions:
1. You free up your mind to do what it does best: namely, think!
Your brain was never designed to serve as a hat rack to hold every chore that crosses your mind. In fact, your decision-making ability improves markedly as you free it from endlessly thinking about and juggling all your projects.
Once you establish your Master List, you can start each morning with a laser focus on your Daily To Do List. Whenever you are nagged by something you need to do tomorrow or beyond, immediately add it to your Master List. Then you can redirect your mental energy back to your genius work.
2. You prioritize effectively.
Your Master List lets you step back and look at the big picture in a way that a daily To Do List never can. And if you haven’t regularly used any sort of list, you’ll be very pleased by how much easier it is to sort and schedule tasks.
Group items on your Master List according to:
* Level of urgency
* Where you will be when, so you can cluster tasks.
Often, a simple code next to each activity can link it to related tasks.
3. Nothing slips your mind.
No matter how busy you get, or how many directions you feel pulled in, your Master List is ready for you at the end of the day. Evening can be the optimal time to pick out your top priorities for the next day. Use these to create an effective Daily To Do List, and then put it all out of your mind to get a good night’s sleep.
Effectiveness is your birthright.
If you harbor doubts that such a simple approach can revolutionize your productivity, simply try it for a week. Notice how relaxed you feel starting off the day with a short list, and how successful you feel as you check each item off! And observe firsthand how liberating you find it to refer to a Master List as you prepare tomorrow’s To Do List.
Your potential is just waiting for you to claim. When you use the right time management tools, you will breathe easier, and your capability will soar!
So, what is your next move to put time on your side?© Copyright 2010 Paula Eder, Ph.D.