Do you have a seemingly endless list of things you need to get done? Have you tried using to-do lists? Time blocking? Reminders? Pop-ups? All the things? Me too.
Below, I share why these methods don't work, plus how you can ditch your list and actually get things done!
What Didn't Work and Why
My old paper planner had space for my top three daily priorities and a to-do list for other tasks. In the past, I had also tried digital to-do lists to prioritize items for project plans. I tried sticky notes and whiteboards. But with these methods, eventually my list would get massive, I would get overwhelmed, and nothing would get done. Sometimes I would even have to delete items that had become irrelevant. Has this happened to you too?
Something was broken, and I figured out how to fix it.
It started with the realization that to-do lists are designed to grow. They are not intended to get things done.
Here's what I did in 2021. It was highly experimental and radical. I hadn't seen or read this anywhere. I was desperate to try something I hadn't tried before, and the results were excellent!
What I Did
I ditched my to-do list in ONE hour one afternoon.
That's right, no list. I went straight to planning time for the things that needed to get done. Tasks went right onto my calendar/planner as an appointment. I skipped the to-do list entirely; no more reviewing a list or prioritizing. Does that sound good to you?
With this method, tasks become significant enough to be an appointment, or you realize they don't really need to get done. Automatic prioritizing!
How to Get Started
Step 1—Scratch off as much as possible from your existing list. Here's how:
- Review your current list carefully.
- Delete things that don't need to be done, ever.
- HINT: if it's been on your list for a LONG time, it probably doesn't need to be done!
- If you're like me and have lots of wishes, dreams and ideas, make a separate list for those things (more on this in a moment)
- 🔥 Take the remaining things and put them on your calendar for this week.
- If the task is too large or takes more time than you have, break it down into smaller subtasks.
- That's the only way to ensure time is set aside to do the things that need to be done.
Step 2—Do not write anything new on a to-do list in the future. Instead, pick a day and time to complete the task. Choose either a half-hour or one-hour time slot depending on how much time you think you'll reasonably need to do it.
Follow standard planning protocols:
- Group tasks by location and include travel time.
- Group tasks that need similar tools, like computer work.
Set alarms for things that demand attention or must be done at a particular time with no wiggle room. This works better for me than a pop-up reminder that can be ignored.
Set a timer to help you stay focused - the Pomodoro Technique is a good strategy.
🎇 For larger tasks, break them down into smaller steps. I found the most success by scheduling in half-hour increments. In my days of technical project management, we had massive undertakings with large project plans. More extensive efforts broke down into manageable chunks.
🎇 Have an idea book to capture random ideas to vet later. Some of my ideas never reach the planning stage, and some get scheduled. An idea book is a place to get the idea out of your brain, so it's not weighing our energy down trying to remember it.
🎇 For random reminders, I add a reminder to my phone. This is not a to-do list—this is a reminder with a timed pop-up to inform. Reminders are in the moment and do not accumulate. These are good for random thoughts before bed, such as remembering to bring something with me in the morning.
🎇 I do my daily Aroma Reset with affirmations, a power pose, and essential oils. Use fresh herbs, dried spices, or citrus fruit if you don't have oils.
It's essential to clear mental blocks and then fill that empty emotional space with powerful motivators. Once a month I join an entire Aroma Freedom session facilitated by a practitioner. This has been extremely helpful in clearing memories sabotaging my inner joy and peace.
Are you ready to ditch your to-do list? Try something radical for empowered growth!
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I created my own custom Planner for Empowered Growth!! It's available on Amazon here:
BTW here's the planner I used before I upgraded to my Planner for Empowered Growth. I designed
This was a blog post a few months back
This is the video from when I first released this blog post while developing this technique. I left it in this post if you'd like to review it.
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