I’m always trying to work smarter, not harder, and while I don’t always succeed, I do my best to make sure I am in control of my to do list… and not the other way around.
A major part of this comes down to one simple rule: I never have more than six tasks on my to do list at one time.
Why only six tasks on my to do list?
I follow the 1-2-3 strategy. I used to follow the 1-3-5 strategy but cut it down even further! The 1-2-3 strategy includes one high-priority or time intensive task, two important but lower priority tasks and three quick, easy or even fun tasks.
This keeps my to do list at a maximum of six tasks.
It means I’m not focusing on smaller priority or “easy” tasks at the expense of bigger projects I need to focus on, which is crucial to making progress in my busy work day.
What has changed since I changed my to do list strategy?
I still use a long master list (I use ToDoIst) to make my daily list of six tasks, but I started using the six-task list system around January. Since then, I find myself getting more done – and not just more in quantity, but more in quality.
Like I said, I keep a master list that can sometimes have as many as 90+ tasks on it at a time. But with my smaller list in a notebook next to my keyboard, I’m avoiding task overwhelm. I also can get a quick view of how productive I’ve been in a day! If I’ve gotten through a task, I add a new task to the list, so if I’m in the 10s or even 20s in my to do list, I know I’ve had a productive day.
If it took an act of God to get through my first six tasks – or maybe I didn’t! – I know my day wasn’t as productive. Sometimes, that means I had a lot of meetings, and other days, I just didn’t focus.
The list also keeps me on track. I do not let myself get distracted from the list! If it’s not on the list, I don’t do it, unless I can guarantee it will take less than a minute. But I resist that urge! It’s easy to let your whole day get away from you with that “less than a minute” excuse.