I love to-do lists. I notoriously downloaded almost every to-do list app on the App Store, and was so embarrassed by my purchase history of app icons with check/tick marks that I abandoned my Apple ID and created a new one.
(Eventually I did find an app that I kept coming back to and really liked – that was Wunderlist.)
My daily to-do lists have always been very long, and, like most people, I stressed out at the end of the day when several things on my to-do list were not completed. I didn’t care about what I had done, I cared that I didn’t finish everything I wanted to do.
This happened far too many times and the pressure was too great. There was no longer a focus on the task, just a focus on doing things as quickly as possible.
My rule now is to do just one thing per day. One important, worthwhile thing. It’s easy for a task to blow out of proportion and take far longer than you expected. But in a sea of to-dos, surely you could pick out one thing that is important, that needs doing now rather than later, today rather than tomorrow?
It’s a simple step of prioritisation that doesn’t involve endless re-ordering, assigning points to tasks, painful headaches of wanting to finish many things.
Just pick one.
It’s worked marvellously so far. I’ve probably been doing it for about a year. You can be flexible with it, but it changes your mindset completely, and here is why:
You won’t be rushing to complete a task, because you no longer have many others to do.
When you finish the one task, you will actually be grateful and pleased if you’ve got time to start another one.
If you finish the task at the end of the day, you will be proud that you can tick it off.
If you didn’t finish the task, you will be content with the fact that you spent valuable time working on it.
The fact that you had other things written down but didn’t get time to visit them will no longer be a stress point. You’ll acknowledge it as being OK.
Mundane tasks and chores (like going to the chemist, cleaning the bathroom) will slowly become habit and don’t need writing down. They will become easier to remember because you will only really task yourself the bigger, important things.
This is your to-do for today:
Just write one to-do.