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Ditch Your To-Do List and Be More Productive

Ditch Your To-Do List and Be More Productive

Have you ever been a slave to your to-do list and were almost always frazzled at how colossal it had become, but still you couldn’t stop writing every little thing down? I used to picture my life spinning out of control without my to-do list, but in reality, it was spinning out of control because of my list. I needed a new, less cluttered, and more effective method, so I ditched the list.

Believe it or not, ditching your to-do list can actually free you up and make you even more productive. But how can you get more done if you don’t keep a list of what needs to be done? It’s simple: pay attention to the world, not a sheet of paper. Below are some of ways in which productivity can improve without the list and the advantages of post-to-do-list life:

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The Advantages of Ditching Your To-Do List

You Don’t Procrastinate

I always wondered how people who don’t use to-do lists remember all the tasks they need to complete if they aren’t reminded of them constantly. Then one day it hit me: people who don’t keep a to-do list get things done as they come up. They don’t put tasks off for later by writing them down; they see something that needs accomplishing and they just do it.

A to-do list is just an excuse to procrastinate. Instead of living with that excuse, ‘non-to-do-listers’ complete chores as they arise. If they see dirt, they clean it up. If they have a work assignment due, they work on it. If they think of someone they haven’t spoken with in a while, they call them. Because if they don’t do it then, they’ll forget it and it will never get done.

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You Don’t Stop When the List Stops

How rewarding it is when you’ve crossed out every item on your to-do list. There’s no better reason to sit back, relax, and reward yourself for having accomplished everything. In order to clear your list, you worked hard even after you hit the wall, and when you finished, you were completely beat. But it doesn’t have to be so exhausting. Don’t let the list dictate your life; if you have high energy, go out there and see what can be taken care of, and when you hit your wall, take a break and relax. You’ll eventually establish an even flow of productivity that keeps you churning out great work.

You’re More Perceptive

It happens to every to-do lister. We get so wrapped up in our list that we start writing things down we do regularly, like if we straighten our homes daily, we write “Clean” on the list. It feels like we’re cleaning every day, because we cross it out every day. But instead of being receptive to the world around us, we’re ignoring some of the bigger issues. If we think we’re already cleaning by simply straightening, we tend to let the more infrequent major scrubbing and dousing that needs attention go unnoticed.

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Don’t lose sight of what actually needs doing in order to fulfill what you think needs to be done. If you don’t keep a list, you’ll be more attentive to the world around you. Chores will call to you, and you’ll be able to listen.

No More Mocking

Once you’ve abandoned the list, the things that can’t be done or simply aren’t done won’t mock you. I had items on my list that were months away from being able to be completed, but there they were, every day, calling out to me from the little lined paper hanging on my refrigerator door. Once I let go of the list, I filled out my calendar to reflect the tasks in the future and finally felt the chains of the list lifted.

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It Allows for Spontaneity

Our days are dynamic, and so are our moods. Sometimes we’re just not in the mood to be completing chores all day, and we’d rather go to the beach or read a good book on the couch. Sometimes we just want to curl up in sweatpants and watch television until our heads feel numb. And that’s okay — that’s a part of living. Go with your intuition every once in a while. When you’re older, you’ll never regret the days you decided to travel, to surprise a family member, the day you tried something new, the long walks you took, or the times you relaxed in the sunshine. But you’ll certainly forget the days you spent slaving over your list of chores. So allow for those fluctuations of mood that take us to new places, those unexpected dips and bends that remind us life is much greater than the list.

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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