How to fix your to do list problems

I have a terrible memory.

This is a problem.

There is a solution:

LISTS!

Need to grab something from the store? Put it on the grocery list. Deadline coming up at work? Better make sure it’s at the top of the list! Need to renew my passport? List that too.

It’s gotten to the point where whenever I think of something that I will have to do in the near or distant future, of any scale, I put it on a list. I have everything from “Schedule eye doctor appointment” to “Pay off Amex” to “Edit my vlog”.

I have fixed my memory problem. Perfect! That’s exactly what I needed. Right? Well, I’ve realized that simple to do lists are not the perfect blanket solution I hoped they were.

Not all tasks are created equal.

Of course not, right? Of course, you can put the most important at the top, you can set “priority” on Apple reminders, you can have multiple lists, but at the end of the day, when you have 53 items on a list, it is hard to choose which ones you should be taking care of now.

Facing this problem, I created a solution for myself.

I set a top 3 priority every morning. I have made it part of my routine to go through my master list and move three items to the top 3. This allows me to focus on what is important, and only that. Reducing the clutter has actually done much more than you would expect.

I never add to this list at any other time. If I have a new task, I add it to the master list. But instead of facing decision anxiety every time I decide to get something done, I simply take a look at my top 3, and at the end, the feeling of accomplishment is that much greater, because I finished something.

The other benefit of this is the daily evaluation of every single item on my master list. By taking the time to ask myself “Can I do this today? Why or why not?” for each task, each day, I find myself often breaking big jobs like “Finish final project for marketing class” into smaller, more digestible bits that I can fit on my daily list like “Make outline for final project”, “Write first draft”, and “Edit draft and finalize”.

Doing this simple habit each day allows me not only to feel more at ease throughout the day, but to focus on what is most important and accomplish more because of it.

If you face the same problem, I recommend you to try this trick for a few days and see if it helps you! If it does, I would love to hear back from you!

See this post on Medium

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