“One of the secrets of getting more done is to make a TO DO List every day,
keep it visible, and use it as a guide to action as you go through the day.”

- Jean de La Fontaine (Fabulist, poet)

Grocery lists, Bucket lists, Wish lists, Checklists, and the list goes on.  List making is one of the oldest ways of organizing thoughts and tasks in a tangible manner.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve been the List Queen.  In my early years, it was to make sure Krispy Kremes and Doritos made it on the grocery list.  Then in high school, my agenda book had lists of assignments, tests, and maybe the boys I was crushing on at the time.  Now, I’m the “go to girl” at my job and my list is an essential and vital part of having a productive AND enjoyable day.  Between college, a full time, and a part time job, a daily To-Do list keeps all of my obligations on schedule for productivity and success.

We’re not talking strategy here – We’re talking about getting things done!  If you’re like me and you have to be “get it done” on a daily basis, then I would like to share this simple L.I.S.T. that will keep your goals on track and help you manage time more effectively.

L – Look at the Clock.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the tasks on your plate, but setting a time limit for each task will help reduce any unneeded worry or stress.  At times I have found myself thinking, “Oh my, I am going to be up all night trying to finish this.”  This mentality sets the mood, and not a very positive one at that.  Instead, I tell myself I will work on this project for 3 hours and then take a break.  After my break, I work on a smaller 30-45 minute task.  Time constraints help you focus and be more efficient.  An additional plus— going back to a task after taking a break, gives your eyes and brain a chance to ‘refresh.’

I – Important Tasks First. My daily morning regimen consists of a Mountain Dew, my beloved legal pad, and some brightly colored ballpoint pen.  First thing I do is start my list for the day (I even draw little checkboxes for instant gratification when I complete a task).  After writing down everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that is on my plate for the next couple of days, I tear out that sheet, and re-write the list in order of priority and importance.  Rather than being dazed by all the things on your list, stay focused on just one solitary item at a time.  This helps keep things in perspective, and what did not get checked off today moves up on the list for tomorrow.

S – Slow Down and Breathe. Breathe in… 1… 2… 3…  Breathe out… 1… 2… 3.  There, don’t you feel better already?  It is essential to leave yourself some buffer-time between tasks.  Many days, we just rush from task to task trying to finish everything we can, only to find out we have missed the big picture. Taking a break helps keep morale high, enables us to stay focused on each task, and ultimately, appreciate the hard work we have completed.

T – Take Pleasure in Your Accomplishments. This is BY FAR the most important step.  Getting caught up in the busyness of our day, we often forget to enjoy what we’re doing or what we’ve completed.  Checking off boxes from the list shouldn’t be your final goal, but what the checked off boxes can do for you.  Whether it’s the satisfaction of a job well done or an extra 30 minutes to watch your favorite TV show, reward yourself for ‘taking care of business.’

So, if you’re looking to be more productive and “get things done,” follow my recipe of creating a prioritized checklist with specified time allotments for each task to help keep your day going smoothly and on schedule.  Be sure to schedule in some time to rest and refresh, such as a short walk or the next level of Candy Crush, and last but not least, show yourself some appreciation and reward yourself accordingly.  After all, you earned it.

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