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To-Do Lists Will Just Make You Less Productive, Here’s Why

To-Do Lists Will Just Make You Less Productive, Here’s Why

Oh yes, we all have at least one to-do list. We can even have several ones (bad idea, very bad idea). It is something expected to write down our tasks. Not only that, but we are taught to do it. It is all about order.

Too many things-to-do

It seems like writing things will magically make them happen right? Well, it does not work at all. If you want some metric let me tell you that only 41% of items on to-do lists are ever actually done. That is rather bad, don’t you think?

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Not only that, but if you also investigate a little more you’ll find some awesome facts regarding to-do lists. One of those truths will confuse you. It happens that a lot of tasks done on a given to-do list are tasks that are not included! I mean, you wrote 5 points, you did 10 but never finished the list! So, what’s the problem? It seems that we get puzzled by this schedule and tend to add more points to our, now endless to-do list.

We get stressed

Our mind just gets stressed with so many things to do and can not get focused in order to take them down one by one. This overwhelming list causes us to get less productive. Besides, we get mental and physically tired. This is a good time to procrastinate right? So we do it.

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Yes, we do procrastinate. It is a monster crushing our productivity. It is our own monster. We create him, we feed him, we keep him alive. But we hate him. Indeed, we can not get rid of him. Somehow we need him. Yes, we need someone to blame. We are not guilty, he is the one to blame. This way we can keep going with our endless to-do list and our “little” procrastination creature.

How to Improve Your Planning by Being Task-Focused

There is a simple way to overcome this situation. You have to be task-oriented, and change how you think about getting things done. You have to stop creating to-do lists and make task lists or objective lists instead.

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Let me explain it: When you change how you think that you must finish a task, you’ll train yourself to get a new and healthy habit. A to-do list means nothing, just a way to write what you should remember; but a task list or objective list forces you to start a task and finish it. Nice, right? There is another hidden benefit with a task list. Let’s look at an example and you’ll see it. Suppose I have this to-do list:

  1. Get a domain name
  2. Hire a hosting company
  3. Configure an email account
  4. Create a site with that domain and hosting
  5. Tweet it
  6. Publish it on FB
  7. Publish it on G+
  8. Publish it on other SM

Now let’s translate it into a task list:

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  1. Get my new site up and running
  2. Promote it

So what happened? It looks like I forgot a lot of the to-do’s, right? Actually, I just convert them to tasks. It is pretty obvious that in order to get my site running I must have a domain name, hosting, email account, etc, etc, so what is the point of writing them all down? I summarized them in one task so I must start it and finish it. The same with regards to promoting the new site. Now I have two tasks that I can perform instead of eight to-do-something that I’ll probably never finish.

As you can see, it is all a matter of re-educating our routines and getting into the best habits, plus thinking of tasks as start-and-finish instead of things to do.

Start today and enjoy instant benefits.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Carlos Alberto Romay

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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