Breaking Down Your To-Do List

Published: September 8, 2020

Last week we discussed the idea of the Eisenhower Matrix; prioritizing and delegating tasks based on their level of urgency and importance. This week, we want to continue down this road of ‘productivity hacks’ and talk around isolating and focusing on individual tasks.

After placing your to-do list tasks in one of the four matrix categories, you may still find yourself overwhelmed with the length of your ‘Important, Not Urgent’ list. There are many things that need your attention, and frankly cannot be passed off to someone else on your team, but you also feel as if there are not enough hours in the day to complete everything. In a nutshell, at the end of the day, you feel overwhelmed and, perhaps, underproductive.  

Let’s simplify these to-do lists even further…

Take your to-do list(s) and place them in front of you so you can see all of the tasks at once. Then, while looking over the list, choose one thing that you want to accomplish today – just one – and write it down on a separate, blank sheet of paper or sticky note. Now, put that long to-do list away, focus on the one thing that you wrote down, and don’t stop until it is completed.

Okay, so what if the thing you chose is a grandiose task, like hiring a new team member? That’s okay! Let’s just break it down and tackle small pieces at a time. For example, maybe your one task is posting a job ad, reviewing resumes, or scheduling interviews. These tasks can be completed in one sitting. And don’t these smaller individual tasks seem much less daunting than ‘hire a new team member’?!

Once your one thing is completed, then you can go back to your long to-do list and tackle the next task. Write down your one thing on your ‘one thing’ paper or a sticky note and get to work. 

By chunking down your list into bite size pieces, you will be able to accomplish more and feel more productive without that sense of overwhelm.

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