For both efficiency and happiness, a quick win is to write a master list of everything you’ve got to do. This is everything, big and small, home and work, soon and distant, everything written down all in one place.
- It takes away the worry that you might forget, or already have forgotten something. Everything is safely gathered together on your list, which gives a nice feeling of control
- But what if the list is too big? Well, first, it won’t be – because things that are both urgent and important get done immediately (e.g. leave burning building before roof collapses) there will be nothingon there that is both urgent and important. Put another way, everything will either be not urgent (great, we can leave it for a bit) or not important (great, it doesn’t really matter if we don’t’ do it!). Most people’s master lists only have about 30 things on them, so it’s perfectly manageable. Which is nice to know – feels good.
- But what if the list IS too long? Well, at least you know, and you can think about what to do about it. Go back and say no to some of it, get better at delegating, or put some time aside to clear some of it. Get tougher at letting things in (I call this my No Crap Policy of NCP). Think about dates and realise that some of the things on the list can sit there happily for a while before you get around to doing them, it’s not a problem since you at least know that they are there, they are safely in the system. Realise that you can’t do everything, and that’s OK too. It’s better to know the size of the problem than to worry about it.
- The list will allow you to plan, rather than just reacting to the most urgent job, or the one where it’s owner shouts the loudest. You can scientifically look at the list and decide which ones YOU want to do first.
- This will mean that you get more important stuff done, rather than just urgent stuff, so you’ll make more progress towards your goals of achieve and enjoy, at home and at work. You will feel more in control and more progress in life.
- You only have to write the list once. It’ll only take you half an hour to do it. You can draw it as a mind map, on paper, in a notebook, or on a computer or a whiteboard. Or you can write it in Word or Excel or as a list of Outlook tasks, or even on real or virtual post-it notes. There are lots of good apps – Wunderlist, ToDoist, or my own (free) app called JobsToDo which allows you to filter your tasks by urgency, importance, size, and whether they are fun or not! All of these apps allow you to view your tasks on your PC as well as your phone, backing up into the cloud.
- Upkeep is quick and easy – occasionally jobs get added or taken off when completed. Since the list is only for the big tasks (you have a daily jobs to do list for all the froth) it doesn’t change very much, maybe less than once task per day. So this is quick and easy.
- The best way to get the tasks to happen is to move parts of the across to your daily list each day. Try to do somethingimportant every day as well as all the urgent stuff. So when you write your jobs to do list each day, have a quick look at your master list and see if you can move a small part of one of the tasks across onto your jobs to do list. Then, at the end of your day, you’ll have a nice feeling of progress because as well as coping with all the urgent hassle you’ve also done a bit of something important.
- Finally a weekly review is good – perhaps on Friday afternoons, have a look at your Master List just to check that nothing is becoming too urgent, and check that you are making progress on the things that matter. Just so you feel you have visibility and control over your future life – which is all on this list.
Go on – write your master list right now!