Here are four simple ideas that will help you take a fresh look at your to-do list and clear-out some of the clutter.
Replace an energy depleting task with an energizing task.
Are you aware of how the tasks on your to-do list make you feel? If your to-do list is like most, some of the tasks deplete your energy, while others energize you. The terrific thing about those energizing tasks is that they act like little productivity power pills—they give you more energy and enthusiasm to tackle the other items on your list. So if you do no other to-do list decluttering, do this one. Identify one optional task on your to-do list that depletes your energy, and replace it with a task that boosts your energy. For example, replace a low energy T.V. show with thirty minutes of an enjoyable aerobic exercise.
Give yourself permission to quit
Just as it makes sense to stop eating when you’re full, it makes sense to stop projects when they’re no longer satisfying to you. Reevaluate any project that has been lingering on your to-do list in a state of partial completion. Ask yourself this question: Given what I know today, if I hadn’t already started this project, would I choose to start it again? If the answer is no—give yourself permission to quit.
While it can feel wasteful to let go of projects and even project supplies that you haven’t finished or used up, it makes less sense to let these items linger on your to-do list. Finishing a project out of obligation or guilt about money spent on supplies makes even less sense. When you finish a project you spend your time—something far more valuable than the money you’ve already spent on supplies. So let the project go and while you’re at it, let go of the guilt, too. Make it your goal to invest your time and energy in projects that energize you and make you happy.
Tap into the power of completion
When you ask the question above, you will hear a yes or two—there will be some projects that you decide you would like to finish. Pick just one of these projects and then finish it! Completing a lingering project does more than declutter your to-do list—it also fuels your energy and motivation to tackle the other items on your to-do list. The endorphin rush that comes from checking something of your to-do list is real—so choose a project that is near completion, and make it a point to finish it ASAP.
Minimize the little time wasters
Little time wasters are like little impulse purchases—over time they add up to a lot of time and a lot of money! Five minutes on Facebook, ten minutes spent procrastinating on an important task, and a few minutes (several times a day) checking email instead of handling it—adds up to a lot of to-do list clutter! Become aware of your little time wasters, and then take time to minimize them. So, for example, if you currently check your email every fifteen minutes, see if you can cut this back to checking every twenty minutes. Assuming you work an eight hour day, this step alone would equate to eight fewer interruptions—and time leaks in your day! Just think what you could get done in that amount of time!
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