I have more items on my to-do list than I have time to do…what is the secret to getting off of this treadmill?
In the face of an endless list of tasks, many of us feel overloaded before we even begin to tackle things! That can lead to paralysis and procrastination or that feeling like you’re stuck on a treadmill that’s going too fast. In reality, you don’t need to do it all, just the small percentage of things that really matter. Prevent to-do list procrastination by putting the 80/20 rule to work for you.
Quite simply put, the 80/20 rule states that in any pursuit a few things (20%) really matter while everything else (80%) is trivial, so the most efficient way forward is to focus on the 20% that is absolutely critical to success and spend less or no time on the rest.
Identify the critical 20%. Ask yourself what really needs to get done on your list? Try working from a list that starts with the three things you absolutely, positively MUST get done today (if nothing else). If you’re juggling a career and family, you can apply that top three list to work and home to-dos. Simply getting clarity on the essentials is a great way to regain a sense of control because as long as you get those things done, you’re on track. Crossing anything else off your list is just gravy.
Lighten the load. Give yourself a momentum boost by crossing any non-critical item from your to do list. Be ruthless! If you aren’t, those items will just take up mind-space with a nagging ‘Hey what about me?’ and distract you from what really needs to get done. Also take a minute to identify those things on your list that you can delegate to others and set a time to delegate the task. Once it’s delegated, it’s crossed off your list!
Start the clock. Assign deadlines to the things on your list. Set times by which you must make phone calls, arrive places, or submit things. For more general to dos make a note as to whether or not the task must me done the same day.