For many of us, our to-do list has become more of a guilt list: an inventory of everything we want to do, plan to do, really should do, but never get to.
It's more like an I'm-never-going-to-get-to-it list.
And the longer the list, the less likely we'll get to it, and the more stressed we'll become.
The secret to getting stuff done:
The formula for turning an intention into an action is what I call the power of when and where.
Decide when and where you will do something, and the likelihood that you'll follow through increases dramatically.
The reason we're always left with unfinished items on our to-do lists is because those lists are the wrong tool to drive our accomplishments.
A list is useful as a collection tool. It's there to help us make sure we know the pool of things that need to be done.
A calendar, on the other hand, is the perfect tool to guide our daily accomplishments.
A calendar is finite; there are only a certain number of hours in a day. That fact becomes clear the instant we try to cram an unrealistic number of things into a finite space.
So, once you've got your list of things to do, take your calendar decide when and where you are going to do your to-do's.
Schedule each to-do into a time slot, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day.
Your entire to-do list will not fit into your calendar so you need to prioritize your list for that day.
What is it that really needs to get done today?
What important items have you been ignoring?
Where can you slot those things into your schedule?
Then, once you schedule an item, cross it off your list.
Following this process will invariably leave you with things still on your to-do list.
But don't worry: that's actually a good thing.
Now, on the other hand, you can be strategic about what gets left behind.
You can decide, in the morning or the night before, what's really important to do and commit to when and where you'll do it.
And you can be sure that if you decide when and where you're going to do those things — if you answer the question, "When tomorrow?" — you'll reliably and predictably get them done.