Tuesday, October 21, 2008

using a master to-do list


There is something so powerful about a central place to store all of your ideas, thoughts and to-do items. You don't feel distracted and scattered because everything's in one place.

Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed, I make a master to-do list of everything I need and want to do. My current list contains emails I have to send, projects I'm working on, errands that need to be run, several appointments and gifts I need to buy.


So why a master to-do list? What's wrong with the back of an envelope and millions of post-it notes?

  1. Writing it all down frees up your brain for big picture thinking so you don't have to concern yourself with remembering details.
  2. It eliminates all those bits and pieces of paper, post-it notes, backs of envelopes, etc.
  3. There is something about the act of actually putting pen to paper that seals things in your mind.
  4. Once you see it in black and white, you can deal with reality so much better rather than imagining how bad it all is.
  5. You can choose the exact number of tasks you want to tackle every day (I don't recommend more than 6) without feeling overwhelmed. Move these 6 tasks to your daily to-do list.


My challenge to you:


* Use a paper-based master to-do list or an electronic version if you prefer. The method doesn't matter much; what matters is that you have a central place to collect your tasks.

* First, write down everything you can think of - go wild; you can sort it out later.

* Now, make categories and then start attacking that list.

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