I often give me clients an empowerment exercise of de-cluttering the mind.
Part of that exercise includes writing a to-do list. The purpose of the exercise is to get everything out of your mind and onto paper. It's a great way to relieve stress and tackle the things that concern you.
What you do with that list is up to you.
Perhaps there are some things you can immediately cross off because they're not much worry at all, maybe you can check things off as you go or it's possible there are some items to consider whether they're worth keeping on the list.
However, if you're not quite sure how to get a handle on everything you wrote down - then I've got some tips for you!
To-do lists that are organized according to what works best for the user can be incredibly helpful and provide a feeling of accomplishment and a better sense of control. Here are three of my top tips:
1.) Prioritize by deadline
Starting with non-negotiable deadlines such as taxes, bills, events on the calendar and so on. Next priority is given to soft deadlines. For example, things you would like to have done by a certain date. And lastly, items with no deadlines or have the lowest priority.
2.) Break it down
Overwhelming jobs or tasks you procrastinate on can be broken down into smaller steps. You might find it helpful to add a deadline or an incentive when the item is checked off your list. The deadline is for accountability and incentive is for motivation - both are important. If you're facing a daunting or stressful project, even the tiniest step counts. It's better to accomplish 1000 tiny steps instead of continuously avoiding one big project.
3.) Try different approaches
There are individual preferences for tackling daily to-do lists so play with various ways to find out what works best for you. Some people find it useful to complete the most undesirable task first, while others handle stressful tasks best on deadline, and anywhere in between of course. A task list is most effective when it's tailored to your preferences.
It's important to know that to-do lists can fail when there is lack of motivation and goals. Lists are great for staying organized but they're not for everyone. Sometimes putting tasks on paper and seeing all the work that lies ahead can cause someone to feel overwhelmed and more stressed.
In those cases, I advise you to start somewhere - anywhere - and stay consistent by keeping things in motion and doing something everyday, even if it doesn't involve checking it off a list.
A couple of ways to find motivation in creating or maintaining a to-do list includes envisioning the bigger picture of what you want to achieve by keeping up with the daily tasks, as well as setting rewards & incentives for milestones, consistency, and meeting deadlines.