When you don’t have a clear sense of what you MUST do versus what you would like to do, feel obligated to do, or feel guilty about not doing, you entrap yourself in a prison of your own unrealistic expectations. Fortunately, you hold the key to get out…
- If you write down a to do list for the week or the day, clearly group activities into “Must Do” and “Would Like To Do.” Be brutally honest and don’t let things that aren’t important and urgent slip onto the “Must Do” list.
- If you don’t write down lists, keep a note near your computer or some other frequently looked place that says “What MUST You Do?” Ask yourself that question every time you glance at the note.
- At the end of the day, evaluate what’s left to do. If everything that’s left is “Would Like To Dos,” stop and force yourself to get in the habit of not feeling guilty for letting these wait. If you have some “Must Dos” still on the list, evaluate what happened:
- Did I spend time on “Would Like To Dos” first?
- Did I underestimate how long it would take to get this done?
- Could I have delegated some or all of this task?
- Is this a “real” deadline? Can I ask for an extension?
- What would I need to do differently to not see “Must Dos” lingering at the end of the day? (i.e. cancel non-urgent meetings, work ahead, delegate more, etc.)
- If you’re still having trouble distinguishing between, “Must Dos” and “Would Like To Dos” ask yourself these questions:
- If something very urgent came up with an important work project, how would I respond? What would I drop?
- If someone in my family got sick, what would I do? What tasks would no longer matter?
About Real Life E®
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through coaching and training programs.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review recently published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Lifehacker, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the 99U blog on productivity for creative professionals and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.