30 Days of Boundaries Day 23: Purge Your To Do Items

Photo by  MiRo Am  on  Unsplash

Photo by MiRo Am on Unsplash

Welcome back. Grab yourself a good cup of coffee or tea and let's grab your to-do list. You might be at work or you might be at home, but, right now, we're going to focus on a work to-do list, but this is applicable to home life, as well.

Go through the exercise and make sure that your to-do list is up-to-date. Make sure that you have everything that is on your plate right now listed on this particular sheet, or you can use an electronic to-do system, whatever works. Make sure everything is on there. Do not get overwhelmed on that list because my hunch, knowing people like I do, is it's a rather robust list of things. Once you go through this and you look at everything, I want you to look at things that are basically things you could lose your job if you don't get done. Highlight those. Grab a highlighter or, if you don't have a highlighter, put a star by them. Hopefully that entire list is not stars because if it is, then we've got a challenge ahead of us, but ideally you want to figure out. These are the really crucial things that need to get done.

Now that you have that done, the next step is figure out from those starred lists, what are two things, not three, not ten, two, that you could possibly get done either today or this week. Once you have that, then write those two things on another sheet, and at the top of that sheet, call it Most Important Tasks. Write those two things down. Nothing else goes on that sheet. You have that sheet with the most important tasks. The other to-do sheet that you filled everything out on, file that away. Grab that sheet that has the two tasks. That's what you are going to work on and that's what you're going to work on until those things are done.

Remember, I told you that on that sheet there are things that you are confident that you would be able to complete either today or this week, so don't work on anything else, if at all possible, except those two items. Once they're done, cross them off and take that sheet and file it. Don't throw it away, but file it. It might be a good idea to write a date at the top, as well.

Now that you've completed those two tasks, take 15 minutes, doesn't need to be very long, 15 minutes, and not do anything. If you're working in a factory and there's parts flying by you, I don't recommend this exercise because you'll definitely get the foreman on you really quick, but if you're in an office type of setting, take 15 minutes and just be. Don't do anything. If you're just sitting there staring off in space and you have a micromanager that asks you, "What are you doing? How come you're not working," then act as if you're doing something. Tidy up the files on your desk or maybe wipe down your desk if you have cleaning wipes or something like that. Get up and stretch. Do something. Go use the facilities. Grab a cup of water. Just don't work for 15 minutes.

The reason why I'm saying this is you need to celebrate that you have accomplished something. We go from task to task to task to task to task to task to task to task to task to task and we don't stop and pause or reflect on what we just did. We forget that we've accomplished something. We've finished something and we just go into autopilot and just round and round and round and round. No wonder we're burning out. We're not stopping. Think of it this way. Think of it like the Indy 500 or a NASCAR race. They run around in circles for 500 miles. They finish the race. They're supposed to stop, regroup, talk about how they did in the race. That's the same thing with this most important task list. Stop and reflect on what you've accomplished. Otherwise, what you're doing would be the equivalent of the Indy 500 is they went round and round and round and round in circles, they hit the 500 mark, the checkered flag flies, we know who won, but then everybody's still running and running and running. They don't stop till they run out of gas or the equivalent is they completely burn out or wreck or anything like that.

Same thing, so you need to stop and pause and say, "Okay. I've done those things. Learn from them." Maybe you did something unique that was an ability for you to create or finish something faster than you have before. Figure that out. You will get into a rhythm of work.

Naturally, if you get two things done pretty quickly, you're like, "Boom. I can get 10 things done today." Don't fall under that trap. If you do finish something and it's early in the day, then look at your list and pick maybe one more thing for the day. Don't try to do more than three a day, but if, for some reason, you can get five or six done and get that list cleared out, I'm okay with it, but make sure you balance in some breaks in between those accomplishments so that way, you will actually feel accomplishment and feel it. See how it feels and then you'll get into the rhythm.

The next thing you need to do after you do Most Important Tasks is look at the original list and see if there's anything on that list that you really shouldn't be doing and somebody else should? Highlight those, as well, different color highlighter or a different symbol, maybe a box or a circle, whatever mechanism you do to track and when you do this you can then talk to your supervisor and say, "I think this person would be better to work on this and here's the reasons why." Also show your boss, "Look at all the things that I've accomplished, but these things here I think Jill would be able to do them better and she probably has capacity to be able to do that." That could be a slippery slope, because you're boss may say, "Well, you're getting everything else done. Why don't you wanna do that?" I have one phrase for you for that. "Resume.doc." If you have a micromanaging boss like that, that's not the best environment in the world for you to be in. There's other opportunities out there. Go find them.

Until next time, be well.