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Hate Your To-Do List? Try A Rolling List Instead!

Hate Your To-Do List? Try A Rolling List Instead!


    Oh, the great To-Do List Debate! The productivity world loves arguing over this topic.

    Are to-do lists the only way to keep yourself on task, or an unrealistic goal that just stresses you out and make you feel bad about all the things you never get to? Should you keep a short list of the most essential items, or a massive running list of every task you’ll ever need to remember?

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    I won’t try to jump into this debate, because the truth is that different things work for different people. For me, I’ve found what works best is something known as a “rolling” to-do list. So I’d like to share this technique with you — not to convince you that it’s the only way to go, but to give you another option you may find works well for you, too.

    How It Works

    If you always have multiple projects percolating at once, a rolling to-do list can be a great way to break down all the steps and deadlines and keep you on schedule without overwhelming you. Here’s how it works:

    Start with a blank document (digital, not paper). Rolling lists don’t work well on traditional calendars or notepads because there’s just too much reordering and rearranging. You need something you can easily cut and paste on as your priorities shift and new items come up.

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    Break your projects up into steps. Say one of your to-dos this month is to finish the Smith report. That task is made up of many smaller components: gathering research, compiling and organizing data, drafting the report, circulating it to coworkers for feedback. Write out each component as a separate item on your list, in the order you’ll need to-do them.

    Give those steps deadlines. Let’s say the Smith report is due in 2 weeks. Next to each component of the project, put down an estimated deadline for when you’d need to complete that item in order to keep things on schedule. This isn’t a hard and fast deadline, just a reference point to keep you from falling behind and to help you rank the item in the right spot on your list.

    Prioritize your items. Let’s say you’ve got five action items with deadlines this week. Decide which are the most crucial and put those first. If Mr. Smith is your biggest, most VIP client, then action items related to his report will probably go before any others. Whatever’s at the top of your list should always be the items you absolutely must get done, even if the rest get rolled over to tomorrow.

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    Tackle the items in order. No skipping ahead if you don’t particularly feel like doing item no. 1 right now. The whole point of ranking your items was to make sure the most important things get done first. So, buck up and do whatever’s on the top of your list.

    Reevaluate and reorder. Your list will always be evolving. Every morning, examine your tasks to make sure they’re still in the right order. Maybe another project has suddenly been upgraded to urgent status; bump its tasks up on the list. Maybe you’ve gotten some new to-dos, so you need to figure out where to fit them in. The key to keeping a rolling to-do list effective is to keep it rolling.

    Why It Helps

    It’s manageable. Rather than a list of big, nebulous projects that’s paralyzing to look at, a rolling list breaks things down into small, actionable items you can work on right now. You’re always chipping away at a piece of one project or another, making progress without getting overwhelmed.

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    It’s flexible. Life happens, and traditional to-do lists don’t accommodate that very well: if today’s to-dos don’t get to-done, they stay at the top of the list, while more things keep getting to the bottom, leaving you with twice as much work and twice as much stress. In comparison, a rolling list allows you to juggle things around and make space for the unexpected, restructuring your priorities as projects change and deadlines shift.

    If traditional lists haven’t worked for you, try giving the rolling list a trial run. You may find it’s just what you need to keep your changing priorities in order (and your sanity intact).

    (Photo credit: Thoughtful Businesswoman via Shutterstock)

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    Published on April 25, 2019

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

    Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

    Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

    Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

    Creativity.

    What is Creativity?

    When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

    Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

    Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

    From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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    For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

    Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

    That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

    Limitations are Actually Opportunities

    The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

    Let me illustrate with an example.

    On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

    However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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    At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

    It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

    This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

    I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

    To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

    My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

    But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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    “But daddy, is it important?”

    “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

    Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

    And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

    Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

    I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

    I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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    Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

    This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

    Creativity is One Key to Success

    When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

    Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

    Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

    So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

    Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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