Are you a list person? That has lists of their lists?
I am. And while I always knew that about myself it was mirrored back to me when my 3-year-old started writing ‘lists’ for his day. Perhaps it is comical how quickly my ‘to do’ list can turn into pages of lists and then this becomes a constant frustration for myself or my team.
There is nothing like a beautifully crafted list to make you feel like you are being productive…but does it help?
In some ways, yes but equally can be detrimental if, at the end of the day, you become frustrated when you cannot accomplish everything on your list or you are not effectively prioritizing tasks or attempting to multitask. More often than not we choose the simple, easy things to check off the list instead of some of the deep, meaningful work that needs to be done.
Reading a recent Harvard Business Review article I was reminded of a great trick to help you accomplish more during your day. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it works.
Start by writing everything you need down in a notebook or piece of paper. Absolutely everything.
Even catch those middle of the night thoughts by having a notebook next to your bed.
Now, what is the first thing you would like to accomplish?
Write down a ‘chunk’ that can be accomplished in one sitting. So, instead of writing ‘write report’ it becomes ‘research introduction to report’.
That is it.
That is your whole list.
Don’t bring out the rest of your list until that is accomplished. In fact, put it away and out of sight.
With too many choices, for some of us, we freeze or procrastinate. Having only one task improves focus and the likelihood of getting it done.
Want to level-up even more?
Turn off notifications and batch check emails. Meaning, instead of switching back and forth from a task to emails when they come in, set a time specifically to check emails. This prevents wasted time switching back and forth between checking email and what you are intending to work on.