What "To Do"?
On any given day there are hundreds of worries and thoughts going through our minds with seemingly no time to accomplish them all. That pressure; on top of day-to-day responsibilities can increase stress, leading to physical and mental health issues.
There have been far too many occasions where I have gone into a day with dozens of things on my mind, and more tasks to complete than I could count. I would spend half the day figuring out what to do, then jump from task to task getting very little accomplish. That lack of productivity furthered my desperation to get things done, increasing stress in the process.
In my experience, the simplest way to take control of time is by creating a daily “to do” list. Every morning I write down the few most important tasks needed to get done that day. Prioritize what really is most important. Try not to get overly ambitious: an over-stuffed list can be just as daunting and stressful as a scattered mind.
Taking a step back to look at the day realistically helps to plan tasks and actually get them done. Planning on grocery shopping after a 12-hour shift and taking the kids to hockey practice probably isn't realistic. Although, it may be productive to use the time in the rink to pay some bills online or catch up on emails.
Focusing energy on one task at a time, completing it, and crossing it off the list is very satisfying. Finishing a day with everything crossed off results in a great feeling of accomplishment.
If everything doesn’t get done for whatever reason, just roll it over to the top of the next days list. I do my best to not let any one task sit on my list for more than a couple of days. When it does, it stresses me out.
This simple change takes only a couple of minutes every day, and will have a huge impact on increasing productivity while reducing stress. If you want to get an extra jump on your day, make it part of your bedtime routine. Keep your notebook by your bed and write down the things you hope to accomplish the next day. Not only will you go to sleep faster because you won't have swirling thoughts about the next day, but you'll also wake up with a focus of what you need to accomplish.
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