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We are so happy to have Jennifer Fitzgerald-Hansen back guest blogging with us. Jennifer is the Owner of Fitzgerald Communications and Training Solutions. In today’s blog she addresses the to do list. Personally its amazing how many lists I make and disregard. So let’s all learn from Jennifer on How to Conquer Your To Do List.

So in order to learn from this post, I am making an assumption here. That is, that you have a to do list that your want/need to conquer. If you are anything like me, you have multiple to do lists for different aspects of your life. Mine look something like this:

  • Work – urgent
  • Work – projects
  • Work – would be nice if I can every find the time
  • Work – maintenance
  • Home – cleaning
    • Regular
    • Seasonal
  • Home – decluttering
  • Home – organizing
  • Home – renovation [even if it is only wishful thinking]
  • Home – garden/outside house
  • Home – seasonal – think Christmas decorating or shopping here – for the next holiday or occasion
  • Relationship – various family members inserted here – When you ask yourself, “what can I do to better my relationship with ______?”
  • Personal goal setting – exercise; diet; 10k race …

Is it any wonder you are feeling stressed, tired, and over whelmed? Most of the above lists are just ‘in your head’ using up that valuable brain energy of yours. You are thinking about all these lists and plans even when you are sleeping. Ever wake up at 2 a.m. and say, “Don’t forget to do ***** in the morning/afternoon/in two weeks.” This is your brain going over your lists even while you are trying to reboot with a few hours of sleep.

I think we will now all agree we have too many lists and not enough time, or so it appears. Let’s try some strategies to be productive and finish some lists.

Step 1 is easy: write out all the things you want to get done; write out as many list categories you have. I don’t care if you use pen and paper, computer or some new app, just get it out of your head and down somewhere. Have a separate page per list.

Step 2 is a bit harder: get real. What are wants and what are needs and what are never going to happen? I may want to reclaim my basement but realistically, my husb and owns all the ‘junk’ down there so unless I get rid of him … see where I am going? I need to let go of this and remove it from any list. What can we delegate to others? What can get a service to do? Can someone do my business books? Can I hire a neighbourhood kid to cut my grass? Can I find a cleaning company to lessen my load? Do you see what I mean here? Now I have real lists, meaning these are the things I know I can actually get done.

Step 3 is a bit more difficult: lose the guilt about not being able to get it all done, not being the perfectionist you want to be, not the “super person” who can do it all. I have yet to meet anyone who truly “does it all”. However, I have met people who are good at deceiving others and make us believe they can get it all done, when in fact they cannot.

Step 4 involves prioritizing the lists as well as each item on the list. Which list to tackle first? When should each list be tackled? What on each list is the most important thing to be done first? What, if done first, will give you the biggest return on investment? NOT the one you want to do first, what do you NEED to do first. Complete this for all lists.

Now at this point I may have the same number of lists as I started with but there are less jobs on them. Now I need to look at scheduling, the fifth and final step. How much time in any given day can I devout to particular job? Then I start to schedule my days, weeks, and months. Remember, these plans are not set in stone. If something comes up it gets moved/rescheduled but at least there is a plan. Without a plan, the hours and days get away from us and we accomplish very little or nothing at all.

So, the secret boils down to this: make all encompassing lists and ‘hard’ plan for when to get them done.



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