How is your to-do list looking today? How many things have you crammed on there? I bet it’s as long as your arm! What are you thinking? How on earth are you going to get all that done in one day as well as have all those meetings, oh and it would be nice to have some lunch.
It’s time to reset and re-think your to-do list.
Humans love a sense of achievement, completing a task releases all those lovely happy hormones; dopamine and cortisol. So to get that lovely natural high you need to set clear, achievable to-do’s and that starts with the number.
3 is the magic number, or so said De La Soul in the 90’s. So lets start by cutting your to-do list down to 3-5 tasks that you can actually get done in one day. Identify them and put them on a sticky note in front of you (along with your intentions for the day). Stick them where you can see them so that you can keep referring back to them to ensure you get them done.
Now, consider the language you have used. I bet it goes something like this: “write proposal for x” or “read the 20 page report that x sent me”. WRONG! This is setting yourself up for failure. There is nothing active in the descriptions above, so you’re not pointing yourself to a place to start. How about this as a more active and positive statement: “write 5 bullet points to frame proposal x” or “read the executive summary of x report”. By making the task specific and actionable and small you’re much more likely to achieve something.
If something else comes up during the day that needs your attention you have the room to either add it and do it, or add it to your long list and save it for another day. The important thing is you’ve given yourself headspace to be able to consider what to do with it rather than driving ahead because whatever it is has just cropped up.