How to Tame Your To-Do List with Ease and Increase Your Productivity

Tame Your To Do List: Hand with writing on

Are you a slave to your to-do list?

Maybe your focus is on getting things done and you feel good about the check marks you’re racking up.

Maybe you think it doesn’t matter what each item is or how you feel about what you’re doing because all that matters is working the list.

If you work with to-do lists in this way, getting things done can feel like an up-hill battle.

Why? Because you’re neglecting one of the main factors of productivity: your emotions.

Emotions are the main driver of your productivity

Think about it. One item on the list makes you grumpy. Then the next thing satisfies you. The third one frustrates you because it doesn’t go as planned.

Or worse, you find yourself working on a chore that makes you miserable. So miserable that it colors your entire day so that even ticking off everything on your list can’t make you feel better.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can transform your to-do list into a smooth running vehicle that will drive your productivity up and escalate your accomplishments so that you’re more successful than ever!

Let’s get started by looking at one of the barriers to your success.

How to Adopt a Mindset of Success

On the Net you can find thousands of productivity tips and books and I’m sure you’ve read a few.

How many different tips, techniques, and ideas have you implemented but didn’t bother with for more than a few days?

What do you want that these methods just don’t give you?

Clarity about how tasks should fit together? Connectedness to the task you’re doing? The ability to bring your best self to important tasks?

Clarity, connectedness, and consistency in being able to apply yourself are three attributes of a success mindset.

They’re the essential pieces that are missing from most productivity methods.

That’s because those methods aren’t geared toward helping you arrange your day to take advantage of your energetic highs and lows.

They’ll certainly tell you to be mindful of them, or to lump similar tasks together. But they place the importance on the task – not you.

Time for that to change!

The Trick to Taming Your To-Do List with Ease

This easy process begins with two standard items on any to-do list: the task, and the time allotted to the task.

Nothing new there, but then for each task, it has you answering the question: What mindset do you need to accomplish the task?

With your answers to that question, you transform your to-do list. It goes from being just a list that drags you along through your day to being a scheduling tool.

It becomes a tool that helps you plan your day in a way that empowers you to optimize your success.

And there’s more.

But first, grab your to-do list, and let’s get started with what you have on the list for today.

Step 1: Create three columns on a page. Whether you put it on your PC or simply handwrite it out – it doesn’t matter.

Label the columns: To-Do Item, Time Required, Mindset Needed, and add your tasks to the first column.

Step 2: Create your Mindset Needed by identifying the optimal frame of mind required to accomplish each task successfully.

By identifying the mindsets you need for each item on your list, you’re taking the first step in how you look at what’s necessary to be successful. You don’t use the same mindset to do a budget as you do to write a memo, or create a sales presentation, code an application, or write a blog post.

For example, my head needs to be in a specific place when I do online research. If not, I’ll just wander off task and skip over to Facebook, catch up on Twitter, and indulge myself in cute animal videos.

Consider that each task is a different “game” you’re playing, and you need to “get your head in the game” for each one.

Tip: since a lot of tasks are repetitive, make a list of them and their associated mindsets so that you can fill out this column easily tomorrow and each day after that.

Increase Your Productivity

Prioritizing tasks can be a frustrating process, and too often we just cram tasks in whenever we think we have time for them.

Not any longer! Because this is all about your success, this step will help you decide how to put your day together.

It will have you prioritizing – effortlessly.

Step 3: Add the time requirements for each task, and organize your day.

Time Requirements

Consider removing from you to-do list any task that takes only a few minutes to accomplish.

Ask yourself: Is this a task that needs to be on the list, or is it only here so I can rack up check marks?

Unless you plan your day correctly, racking up check marks makes you less productive not more. That’s because it helps you procrastinate.

If multiple short tasks need to be on the list, consider doing them just before you break for lunch, or at the end of the day.

If a task will run over an hour, consider breaking it down into smaller segments of no more than 50 minutes each, with a 10- to 15-minute break.

Sitting for extended periods of time is not good for you physically, and unless you’re in the groove and have one of those lovely flows going, it can drain you mentally as well.

Prioritize your tasks by asking the following three questions:

-Is this an upstream, downstream, or standalone task, i.e., does it have to be done before other tasks can begin, or must it wait until something else is done first?

-How does it fit in with the other tasks I need to accomplish, i.e., time and mindset needed to work on it?

-If I don’t feel it’s a good fit with the other tasks that need to be done today, when should I plan on doing it?

Organize your day

Based on your time requirements and mindsets, begin organizing your day.

Would it be to your advantage to do tasks with the same mindset one after the other? Or would that drain your energy too much?

What’s going to be the best way – and the best time of day to do specific tasks?

Arrange your to-do list to optimize your energy and take advantage of your energetic peaks and valleys. Doing so will help you maintain good levels throughout your day.

Create a Space for Success

Here is the extra power you need to keep things running smoothly throughout your day.

Every time you begin a new task that requires a new mindset, create a space for success.

It’s a quick and easy technique to get your “head in the game.”

  1. ∗Begin by taking a few moments to pause and check in with yourself and what you’re experiencing. How are you feeling? What is your energy level?
    .
  2. ∗Don’t ignore or fight against what you’re feeling. Simply notice it, and accept how you feel at that moment. Take three slow, deep breaths to clear your mind.
    .
  3. ∗As you return to your regular breathing, think about the task you’re about to do. What kind of mindset do you need for it? How much time have you given yourself for the task? How do you feel about that amount of time? Is it okay, or does it need to change?
    .
  4. ∗When you’re ready to begin your task, imagine how you’ll feel while you’re doing it. See yourself being connected with the task and effortlessly completing it.
    .
  5. ∗When you’ve completed the task, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Congratulate yourself for a job well done and for setting yourself up for the success you just created.

Reach New Heights of Success

Imagine waking up and getting excited about what your day will be like.

That’s what happens when you use this process.

No longer letting it drag you from one task to another, you’re now taming your to-do list so that it supports the success you want to optimize.

You’re in the driver’s seat of the smooth-running vehicle you’ve created.

Naturally, you’ll face challenges throughout your day that will mess up your plans.

The solution is using the Creating a Space for Success technique throughout your day.

Your day may have taken you down a bumpy road, but with this technique, you’ll still be empowering yourself to take positive action.

That’s what this process is all about, empowering you in an easy but effective way so that you’re

  1. ∗Transforming your static to-do list into a proactive tool engineering your success,
    .
  2. ∗Turbo-charging your productivity because you’ll have the right mindset for each task,
    .
  3. ∗Mindfully managing your tasks so that you can zip through smaller ones and not get overwhelmed by big ones,
    .
  4. ∗Bringing freshness and fun to your day because each task becomes a game, and most importantly,
    .
  5. ∗Honoring your processes by helping you plan a day that will have you moving from one success to another.

Empowering isn’t it?

So empower yourself, increase your productivity, and reach new heights of success!

Why wait? Do it now!

About the Author: 

Quinn Eurich knows firsthand just how troublesome and challenging it can be to deal with anxiety and panic. You can pick up your free copy of her 10 Tips to Outsmart Anxiety (Whatever the Situation) by, clicking here.

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{ 24 Comments }

  1. Mark Tong says:

    Hi Quinn

    Such a great idea – to think of your emotions when tackling productivity and to do lists! Once you think about it, it makes perfect sense

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Mark,

      What can I say – I get my inspiration from my own life! LOL!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Oh boy, this is such a clearly explained way to push our productivity to new heights Quinn. Using the mindset perspective to group tasks will allow me to stay in the right groove for each set.
    Do you find you need to step away from it all (laptop, office, to-do list) before stepping into your next mindset – what’s your top tip?

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Laura,

      Though I work from home, I took from my 9-5 job the habit of getting away from my desk.

      At the office, even if I had but a few minutes, I’d head off to the ladies room and wash my hands. The act of leaving, and then doing something physical – like washing your hands is a good transitional activity.

      Then I’d go back to my desk and take a moment or two to get into a good head space.

      If my head really needed clearing, then I’d walk to a ladies room in a different part of the building. The building in which I worked was so large the furthest one was a city block away!

      The really important thing is to focus on what you need to do in order to give yourself the chance to be successful at performing any task.

      Once you can make that mindset a habit, then you’ll find a variety of ways to help you do that.

      Thanks for asking, and thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Cylon George says:

    Quinn, I love this! You really hooked me early in this post with the missing link of productivity: “Emotions are the main driver of your productivity.” We all know it, we all feel it – but it’s rarely acknowledged and addressed in the way you’ve done in this post. Thank you 🙂
    Cylon George´s last blog post ..The Single Most Important Trait of the Spiritually Strong

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Cylon, thank you!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. That summing up of my description of how emotions affect you was a good add.

      Thank you for commenting!

  4. Eliza says:

    There once was a woman who always checked off and did everything on her to do list.
    How do you do it? Her partner asked.
    “Each item I complete I write down, then check it off. I’ve never been happier!”

  5. Toby Nwazor says:

    Hi Quinn
    Lovely post,so practical and applicable.I love the format you recommended for the ‘to-do’list,the three column system and especially the place of the mindset/altitude needed to carry out any task.Thumbs up.Thanks.

  6. Quinn Eurich says:

    Hi Toby,

    Thank you so much for letting me know!

    I’m glad you liked and got benefit from the post. Would love to know how you make out with it!

  7. ikechi says:

    Hi Quinn

    Of all the productivity post I have read, this is the coolest. When productivity techniques are listed, it looks like we are robots

    But you bring the factor of emotion which is being ignored, thanks for sharing. Take Care

  8. Hi Quinn,

    The 3 C’s: Clarity, Connectedness, and Consistently applying yourself. Love that.

    Also, I’m interested in what you said about your head needing to be in the right place for online research. How would you define that mindset when adding it to your Mindset Needed column?
    Linda Wattier´s last blog post ..Hello world!

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Linda,

      For tasks that I don’t like doing or find irritating like housework, paying bills, balancing checkbook, etc. I use words like Calm, Alert and Accepting.

      Sometimes I actually have to meditate for a couple of minutes before I can accept that these are the necessary things of life that have to be done. If I can’t get into that mindset, then I’ll try later.

      Anything to do with writing is my Flow mindset. I have a pre-writing routine that can’t be done unless I’m willing to just go where my thoughts lead me. From there I identify the thread I’m going to use to hold everything together.

      When I sit down to write, I keep the thread in mind. If when I write, I become tense and anxious and “try” to make my writing match the outline I have in mind, then I’m out of Flow. That means the thread isn’t strong enough to hold things together, or it’s the wrong thread. So back to the drawing board.

      For many other things, such as gardening, grooming the dogs, and grocery shopping the words are Patience and Process. These words remind me that the process is more important than the outcome.

      Though I’ve given into temptation and have rushed through my to do list, while saying to myself, “I know what mindset I need to be in.” If I don’t write down the mindset I need, invariably, my old mindset of “getting it done” takes over. The results aren’t good and then I get annoyed with myself for NOT following my process.

      So for me the words are important as they help be set the intention for the process.

      I hope this helps, and if there’s anything else I can help with please let me know.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  9. Michelle Gale says:

    What a grounding way of teaching productivity! Mindfulness, visualization — in an era in which we’ve become like extensions of our machines, this is really refreshing. Thank you, Quinn.

    I want to sing the praises of frequent breaks. I kept trying to force myself to take breaks and failing. I found online timers irritating. So I bought a cute, inexpensive gadget made by CDN on Amazon, and generally set it for half an hour. It’s right in my face, and when it rings I don’t ignore it. I feel better physically at the end of the day, I’m more focused and I get more done, and when I feel like procrastinating, I’ll set the timer for 20 minutes and say, “Just do 20 minutes.” Well, that gets me over the initial hump, and then I’m usually good to go.

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Michelle, thank for commenting and letting me know you liked the post. And I so agree with what you said about us and our machines!

      Also, thank you for sharing your process! I love it when you want to accomplish something and won’t let previous failures stand in your way!

      Too many people would just give up and make excuses. Good on you for not doing so!

  10. Jamie Moyer says:

    This is such good advice, thank you for sharing. I found your page via the Top 100 Personal Development Blogs of 2016 List and I can see why you are listed.

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! I’ll bask in the reflection of your comment as I’m a guest blogger here. The woman who has shaped this site is Mary Jaksch.

      Quinn

  11. Elle says:

    Your ideas totally resonated with me Quinn. I sort of do some of what you suggest, but now you’ve given me some add ons that I can use to keep the energy of success in motion.

    • Quinn Eurich says:

      Hi Elle, I messed up the reply and ended up posting a comment. Which since it included something weird at the bottom is probably a good thing.

      Here’s the replay!

      I’m glad you found some benefit it in. And I like the way you say keep the energy of success in motion. You’re absolutely right – you begin a successful day right from the moment you wake up!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  12. Quinn Eurich says:

    Hi Elle,

    I’m glad you found some benefit it in. And I like the way you say keep the energy of success in motion. You’re absolutely right – you begin a successful day right from the moment you wake up!

    Thank you for taking the time to comment!

    Thank yo for kaing the i

  13. Ilka Emig says:

    Hi Quinn!
    Thank you for sharing this insight and for leading me through the process.

    Very inspiring!

    Keep it up, Ilka

  14. Pedro Cheung says:

    I’ve read several books on productivity and getting things done. Your article brings a lot of practical suggestions and common sense. Appreciate your contribution to the community and your website.
    Pedro Cheung´s last blog post ..Christian Obedience – Christianity 101 [Part 12]

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