Is Your To-Do List a Triumph or a Tragedy?


Are you the type of person who likes to make lists? I use lists just about every day. As I get older it's the only way for me to remember everything I need to accomplish in a day! There are all types of on-line lists or organization systems that you can use. Personally I like lists written out on paper. It feels more tangible to me. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I can cross things off my list. It serves as a visual reminder of a successful day. But sometimes lists, whether on paper or online, can become a burden. Some tasks will inevitably take longer to complete or maybe not get done at all. In those instances you may feel overwhelmed. Then the list becomes a reminder of everything you have to do and how little time you have to complete everything.

The trick to a good to-do list is to really be committed to completing the tasks. Compiling a list of things that you know you won't have time to complete or that you haven't gotten to in years defeats the purpose of a good list. I've seen estimates that 41% of tasks on a to-do list don't get completed. A good list is one that is realistic. The list serves as a written reminder to make a plan and the steps to execute that plan. A short, simple, specific and actionable list with short time lines to complete each task

is the easiest way to set yourself up for success (and lots of items crossed off as completed!). Next be sure to prioritize your list. It seems logical that you can complete the small tasks easily and then tackle the larger, often more important tasks. But the reality is those smaller tasks could take call day and then you're stressed with a shorter deadline to try to complete the more important tasks.

Most importantly, give yourself forgiveness if you don't get through your list. There will inevitably be interruptions and distractions. The list should be a guideline for your day, but don't allow yourself to feel discouraged if the day ended up completely different than planned. The best lists are a suggestion, without the guilt or punishment if not completed. Often times things not on the list are accomplished instead. You may be getting things done that you don't give yourself credit for completing. Celebrate the day either way!

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