Taming the To-Do List Monster

Small Accomplishments

Have you ever noticed that as your to-do list continues to grow it becomes as overwhelming as moving a mountain of pea gravel with a spoon? Mine does. But, how many of those things could have been accomplished in not much more time than it took to add it to your list. My to-do list is on my computer, so it means going to my office, turning on the computer, clicking on the sticky notes program, adding another bulleted line for the item and typing the name of my feat to accomplish. Then there is the time wasted recopying the to-do list. You do it too don’t you? When I kept my list on paper, I recopied it every week to tidy it up.

Sadly, many of the tasks on my list would take less time to complete than I waste with the whole to-do list process. For months—five to be exact—I have wanted to go through my spice drawer with a black sharpie and write the names of the spices on the lids so that I wouldn’t have to select a dozen or more other spices before landing on the cinnamon bottle. Today, after enough irritation in my attempt to find garlic salt, I got out the marker and wrote the names on. Do you know how long it took? Ten minutes. Ten!

Let’s do the math of five months, approximately two minutes consumed each day playing spice roulette on the four days per week that I actually cook something that doesn’t come out of a box…That’s twenty weeks, multiplied by four, multiplied by two…That comes to a minimum of one hundred and sixty minutes or 2.66 hours consumed by the problem.

Now, comparing the 2.66 hours to the ten minutes it took me, which would have been wiser—writing it on my list, or just getting it done?

Look through your to-do list. How many things on there could you complete in less than thirty minutes? How about setting the timer for 30 minutes today to work on your revolving list? If you like the technique, you might want to do it two more times this week. Instead of recopying today, I’m going to see how many things I can slice off the list. It would be nice to have just one thing left on the list by December 24th—RELAX!

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