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- Work Smarter #47: Why Your To-Do List Won't Work For You
October 12, 2011

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Hi, Kell here!

Welcome to the Work Smarter Not Harder Newsletter #47.

Do you find your to-do list is not working for you?

I was working with 5 clients yesterday and....guess what....they all kept to-do lists as their plan of work. But the to-do list is an inferior tool for today's world of work.

Do you have a burning question about time management? Feel free to ask it here.

The problem with to-do lists

Don't get me wrong, the traditional to-do list is a great time management tool to get ideas out of your head and onto paper.

Also the feeling of accomplishment when you tick things off is great….heck I have even added completed tasks to my to-do list just to tick them off.

But the traditional to-do list is an inferior tool in today's world of work.

You can work hard all day and only get through half of your list….only to have to add them onto your next day’s list.

Does this sound familiar? Today we have 100's of things to do, which is why keeping a traditional to-do list results in feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Inevitably, as your to-do list grows to several pages your feelings of frustration and overwhelm increase.

There is one other problem with the traditional to-do list. Planning at the daily level with your to-do list will pull you into reactive mode. I talk more about the reactive mode at the time management matrix.

If you spend too long in the reactive mode then stress and job burnout ensue.

Keeping a to-do list can be more a source of frustration than a productivity tool.

Is there a better way than the traditional to-do list?

There is a better way to manage your workload in today’s world of information overload.

At its core, good time management involves spending time on those things that drive your performance.

At work, these are your most important tasks/projects (MIT's) and in your personal life it is spending time with those that you care about, your health, and the pursuit of your personal goals.

While I think that we all personally know what is important in our work and life, the great problem is that we are constantly pulled off these MIT's.

3 simple steps to focus on your MIT's

There are three simple steps to focus on your MIT's:

  1. Identify what is important for you in the long-term and then bringing it down to the quarterly level.
  2. Using your quarterly goals to plan and review at the weekly level.
  3. Execute your plan at the daily level.

I write these three steps and provide resources to put these steps into action at effective time management.

These same principles can be applied with this excellent time management software which is available for a free trial download.

Word of warning: These time management techniques may sound easy they are harder to put into practice.

Changing a habit is hard to do and requires conscious directed effort. Remember the motto "progress not perfection" is what you are after.

Please let us know your comments, views or feedback so that we can improve our site for our most valuable resource


All the best,

Dr Kell and the team at Effective Time Management Strategies.

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