With a new year just beginning, now is a great time to reflect on your to do list practices, so you can stay focused on what really matters and keep a lid on the seemingly ever-growing lists that can overwhelm and distract you.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates
Change one year to one day, and ten years to one year, and the same applies. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year.
If you disagree, just take a look at your to do list for today or even this week. Will you really accomplish everything on that list in a day or a week?
[Tweet “The problem with most to do lists is they’re often more a compilation of should-do’s than must-do’s.”]
The difference between the two lies in the degree to which you are clear about your goals and focused on doing what it takes to achieve them.
If you want to make real, satisfying, meaningful progress this year, try this exercise:
1. Write down your 1-3 most important goals for the next 12 months.
Use a clean sheet of paper. If you don’t remember them and/or have to go find your list of goals to remember what they are, then consider it’s time to reset your goals. This time make sure they are simple enough to remember and find a way to keep them top of mind.
If you don’t have any goals consider now is a good time to set some. Make that the number one must-do on your list.
Goals are like a compass, and you won’t get very far without at least a few of them to keep you focused. Use them to guide your focus and drive your choices of what you must do and will not do to ensure you make progress in what matters most to you.
2. Take an honest look at what you can delete, stop doing, or renegotiate.
Carefully consider your to do list, planner, task list, or whatever you use to keep track of what you need to do. Which tasks are not essential to reaching your goals this year? Or worse, which ones will take your focus away from the tasks that will lead toward achieving your goals?
The list of things you could do is ever growing. Developing a discipline in removing things that take you off-purpose is as important as checking things off your list.
3. Consider the items on your list in terms of whether you said yes or chose yes.
Saying yes is not the same thing as choosing yes. Saying yes means you put something on your list with an intention to get it done. Choosing yes means you make a promise to do what you said you would.
Saying yes is easy and often the path of least resistance. Yet consider what you do to your stress, not to mention your integrity, when you take on more than you can handle. Choose wisely, and resist the temptation to say yes because it is easier than no or not now.
When you use these 3 steps to transform your “should do” list into a “must do” list, you might be surprised by how much you actually accomplish!
What strategies do you use to ensure you are using your time wisely?
Image credit: geralt