Get Your Task List Under Control in Five Easy Steps

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By Lissa Cupp, vice president, e-Commerce & Consumer Marketing, ACCO Brands

With schedules filling up more quickly than ever and to-do lists growing beyond our control, it’s no wonder we are all feeling stretched a little thin. In fact, some of us, I’m sure, are to the point of being stretched to the point of breaking.

The culprit here is mismanagement—not only mismanagement of our time but also our task lists. All of us are guilty of creating lists that no person could ever accomplish. It’s human nature to bite off more than we can chew. This rings even more true during the holiday season.

So how do you properly manage your growing to-do lists? I have five simple recommendations that can help you create feasible and realistic tasks. Once you have your daily list in place, take these actions:

  • Delegate. As much as we’d like to think we’re super-human and can accomplish everything by ourselves, the truth is we can’t. Take advantage of those who can help you—they are most likely more than willing!
  • Reschedule. There is only so much time in a day. If there’s an event or task that isn’t critical and can wait another day or two, move it off today’s list. This helps ensure you’re able to give all your tasks the time and energy they deserve.
  • Combine. Check your list for tasks that are similar in nature or can be addressed at like times and combine them into a single task. A simple example is when you’re grocery shopping, also stop at the bank and get gas instead of making multiple trips out.
  • Save for a Rainy Day. Create a grass-catcher or “someday” list—move items from your to-do list that are not critical to complete or can wait for another day where you can devote time to them. While these are oftentimes personal or hobby-related, don’t forget to allow yourself at least some time for enjoyment. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
  • Delete. There are always a few tasks on your list that are simply not important or even unachievable. Don’t let them take up valuable time and resources. Be reasonable with yourself and delete these items.

Taking these five actions will tame even the most out-of-control to-do list. Plus, they provide a good way to keep yourself honest and get into the habit of planning your time carefully and conservatively. Take these five steps and make today that start of a manageable holiday season!

[photo by Darren W]

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