Mission Impossible: ToDo-list
In this time and day, I suppose we all got some sort of ToDo-lists that more or less tend to grow larger for every passing day. ToDo-lists are not a vicious thing by nature. It’s how we handle them that matters. Think of it as a box of chocolates. You can stash all sorts of goodies in it, but there is an upper limit on the amount before it gets full. If you then try to put even more goodies in the full box, they will probably all get mashed.
Same thing goes for your daily life. You have a maximum number of hours in every day and that’s a fact that cannot be changed. When your calendar gets full, you cannot fill it with more activities without first removing something, or else all activities will suffer.
What is the key to effectively managing ToDo-lists, so all things get done and still have a normal social life?
Write stuff down to get it off your mind, but be selective about which items you add to your list. You simply don’t have time to do all the things you want. Not even half of them. Try to believe that and you will never write list items such as “ToDo: do ToDo-list”. We often have far more items on the lists than we can complete while living a normal lifestyle. My own vast lists would take several years to execute if I ever would try anything as futile as that.
There are plenty of ways to structure the information, ranging from a pile of yellow notes to entering them in a task management system. There is no universal method that suits all personalities, so it’s all up to you.
Is it really necessary to do that particular list item? Will it matter in five years? What will happen if it is removed? Perhaps the quality of the other items will increase, as well as your life, and that is a good thing.
If you feel overwhelmed, try to think of it as “too overambitious lists” rather than “insufficient time”. You can always do less things, but you can seldom give yourself more time. Remember to lift your nose from the lists and live a little.
Update: Martin offers some good advice on the subject.