Do Less: Get More Done

I am a list maker. I am one massive list maker. I live by them, swear by them, and most days I have a list floating around in my diary. And yet somehow over the past few  months these lists became horrendously long. And it was stressing me out. Here I was, just back at uni, with a list each day as long as my arm- with absolutely no way of completing it all, no matter how organised I was.

‘To Do’ lists are a great tool for decreasing stress. They help me feel vaguely in control, and like by the end of the day I have achieved something and moved forward slightly. But when they’re a jumble of things that each take a good few hours? It has the opposite effect. And so here I am going to share with you the way I am now making my lists; I can’t remember where I saw someone write their lists this way, but its really stuck with me. There’s less on them, but I am getting tonnes more done, simply because I am not over-faced…

  1. Make a section called “Important Things”. In here write 5 things that need to be done by the end of the day: these are the biggies. Now, if I know I have three lectures in a day, then that’s anywhere between 3 and 5 hours gone already. Each one gets listed as a separate thing, and that leaves me two big things.
  2. Make a section called “Medium Priority Things”. In here write 5 things that it would be very benficial to get done, such as: ‘Prep. food for tomorrow: overnight oats, chopping veggies, assemble lunch’, ‘Answer personal emails + uni emails’.
  3. Make a final section called “Little Things” and, you guessed it, write 5 things. These are things that would be nice to get done, but that only take a few minutes, or that it doesn’t really matter if they aren’t completed, e.g. ‘Wash makeup brushes’, ‘colour code events in diary’, ‘book gym classes’.

Once I began doing this I was suddenly getting everything I needed to get done, done. And if I didn’t complete a few tasks? It didn’t matter in the slightest. In fact, I sometimes ended up getting more tasks completed, as I had spare time once I’d ticked that final thing off of the list. Although I do warn you: don’t be tempted to add on more things as you cross one thing off of the list- only do extra things, and only if you feel like it, once that list is completed. Also, don’t multi-task. Complete one thing at a time, and you actually get done a lot faster, as you aren’t dividing your attention up between 15 different tasks. When I do this I don’t end up with 15 tasks completed in super quick time: I end up with 15 half finished tasks and a whole lot of stress.

The very best part of it all? Suddenly, I could have some “Me Time” again. I had 20 minutes to watch some YouTube, or flip through a magazine, or just sit and write with a coffee or cup of tea most afternoons. I could chill for an hour or so before bed with a book. And that time in turn relaxed me and meant I felt refreshed enough to complete the next day’s tasks- without losing the will to live. So give it a try: streamline that list and get more done.

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