Having already heard so much on this topic or the to-do list, you’ll probably come across a point or two that’s been said before. As with most things in life, however, it’s the way in which a cliché is turned that makes it worth checking out. That’s the attitude I brought to the keyboard when I was busy clickety-clacketying away on how best to approach a to-do list.
Making one is pretty easy. Anyone with a little bit of common sense and patience can manage it, but is it efficient? Is it intended to save you time and effort? Now, those are points worth learning about.
Start with nothing on your mind. Literally. Stop thinking. Begin by visualizing what you’re going to do with that ‘plan of the day/moment’ of yours. The first thing you see yourself doing, even if it’s paying the restroom a visit, is probably what you should put down as point number 1.
The beginning is always gonna be the rough-sketch, so don’t try to go all Michelangelo on it and force a good sculpt. Keep the visualizing thing going until you’ve completed your ‘ plan of the day/moment’. Remember to pen it all, or pencil it (whatever!).
Slicing the to-do list
Next thing you need to do is look through the to-do list, start to finish, and slice off the stuff you feel aren’t all that essential to your ‘plan of the day/moment’. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, this is the step you need to get your attention fueled up on.
This is where you have to think like a third person. If you think like yourself, you probably won’t remove anything from your rough-sketch. If you try the second-person act, you’ll talk to yourself saying how all the stuff on the rough-sketch is good, don’t change it.
The third person is your ultimate role-play mode. Think of what you’ll say to someone you criticize. Yes, you read it right. Do that and you’ll have given slicing a whole new meaning.
Don’t Throw In Excuses
As unsympathetic as it may sound, it’s deplorably pitiful to see someone give excuses why they keep something totally useless on their to-do list and try their level best to complete that point. You can boil it down to:
A compulsive disorder—"I don’t know why, but I simply have to do that!"
A perfectionist tendency—"I have to do this first or it’ll plague me all day!"
A ridiculous sense of self-degradation—"Well, that’s just me. Take it or leave it!"
Well, leave it. If you can’t opt for efficiency in a simple to-do list, what does that say about other areas of your life? This is when something as simple as a list like this can teach you a lot about yourself. Take the hint.
Make It Work
Yes, this is kinda obvious. Go deeper into the meaning, though. Make it work? What does it mean? Don’t put it off, don’t delay your to-do list, don’t take a rain check and, well, so on goes the dance.
You’ve invested time, thought and energy into crafting an efficient to-do list. To act on it asap is a step in the right direction. Putting it off makes you get complacent. And, guess what, you revert to your old self, put back the stuff you sliced out, throw in a few excuses, get delayed, blame the list, blame the day, blame your luck and hate the blog you’re reading this on. Don’t ever do that! Everything, not just the blog part.
Get to work on completing your list. Breathe gently or you’re just going to get all hot, and not in the good sense of the word. Remember that feeling? If you do it as though you’re the most casual person you know, it’ll take a few minutes before you fall into the flow. After that, the finish line is all you’ve to look forward to.
There you have it. A simple to-do on how to do the to-do list. Confusing? Well, don’t fret, this is one of those conclusions that’s prone to get dramatic. It’s what you read above that matters! Efficiency is the name of the game. After all, where would the Chinese be without it? And where will we be without the Chinese?
Visualize. Slice. No Excuses. Make It Work.
Good Luck, you’re gonna need it the first time round.
P.S. If you are looking out for an awesome app for managing your to-do list, then this is worth a read – Why Evernote is Your Perfect Companion.