Ticking off your to-do list is a daily struggle. You begin with the best intentions, filling it with all the things you’re determined to get done. But life happens, meetings pop up, extra tasks come your way, and before you know it, you’re ending the day with a list longer than the one you started with.
We’ve all been there! Balancing your workload is incredibly challenging, and it takes a lot of working and re-working to get it right. If being able to finally tick off your to-do list is starting to feel like it might be a myth, give these foolproof tactics a go:
When it comes to ticking off your to-do list, it’s best to start at the beginning. As in, right at the beginning, before your list has even materialised.
One reason as to why so many people struggle to complete their to-do list is because they’re simply putting too much on it in the first place. Filling your to-do list with a multitude of tasks, all with the intention of doing them in the space of one day, means you could be setting yourself up for failure. No matter how hard you work, the chances of getting through it are slim, and you’ll feel frustrated at the end of the day.
Instead, be realistic with your list. Select a few tasks that really can’t wait and make these your priority for the day. This way, you won’t be giving yourself too much work to do, the tasks you do complete will be of better quality, and you won’t be left with a frustratingly half-completed list at the end of the day.
Quality over Quantity
In the same way that being realistic works to help tick off your to-do list, prioritising quality over quantity does too. Often, there is pressure in the workplace to be the one completing the most work at all times. You feel the need to speed through tasks just to get them done.
While this work ethic is brilliant, it may mean that quality suffers. Changing your mindset to prioritise quality over quantity will mean that you’re able to resist the urge to fill your to-do list to the brim every day and instead will allow you to really concentrate on the few tasks you’ve picked out as being realistic.
You’ll also feel a lot less stressed about the whole thing!
Give Tasks your Full Attention
Sometimes, when ticking off your to-do list feels like a constant battle, it may be because you’re being pulled in too many directions at once. If you’ve got numerous tasks on the go or are distracted by your inbox, you may find it challenging to focus, meaning that each task you try to complete takes twice as long.
To combat this, try:
- Eliminating distractions – close your inbox, turn your notifications off, resist the urge for a quick social media scroll and give the task at hand your full attention.
- Block time off to complete the task – give yourself a set amount of time to complete the task, ensuring that you give it your full attention for the entire time. If you work in a busy office or are in a more senior role and are concerned about being interrupted, let your team know when your blocked off time is. They’ll be less likely to disrupt you, and you’ll be able to finish the task at hand with ease.
We know giving tasks your full attention all the time can be challenging, but doing so even a couple of times a week will make a huge difference to your ability to make your way through your to-do list.
Get your Timings Right
As well as being selective when it comes to the type of task you’re putting on your to-do list and how many, when you choose to do them also makes a difference.
Statistics show that, on average, we’re more productive in the mornings than we are in the afternoons. Therefore, it stands a chance that any tasks you complete during the afternoon may not be of as high a quality as the tasks you complete in the morning. Similarly, you may find yourself flagging in the afternoon, meaning that tasks at the end of your to-do list may not get done at all.
To combat this, plan your to-do list strategically. Any urgent, time-consuming or complex tasks should be at the top of your list and completed first thing. Save any miscellaneous or non-urgent tasks for the afternoon – this way, if you do find yourself running out of steam, it won’t have such a negative knock-on effect on your productivity for the day.
Don’t be Afraid to Say No
One of our top tips for ticking off your to-do list is not being afraid to say no to extra tasks if your workload is looking a little on the heavy side. While it may be in your nature to be accommodating, taking on too much can mean it’s nearly impossible to tick off your to-do list, leaving you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
Instead, be selective in what you say yes to. Only take on extra tasks that you know you’ve got time for and don’t feel pressured to continually add to your list – you’ll never finish it!
Sometimes, no matter how many tips you take on board or methods you try, your to-do list will remain unfinished. Usually, this is due to the fact that your workload is too heavy, and you don’t have additional support on hand to help you out.
If this is the case for you, delegating specific tasks may be the best option. Consider which tasks you don’t need to do yourself, tasks that don’t necessarily need to be done in-house or tasks that you just simply haven’t got time for and find an outsource professional who can take over them for you.
Here at The Edwards Company, for example, we support businesses locally in the West Midlands and across the UK (and sometimes beyond!) by taking tasks like credit control, content creation, data entry and admin off their hands. Not only does this mean that these tasks are taken care of by professionals with years of specialised experience in each, but it also means they’re permanently removed from the to-do lists of our clients.
Having a to-do list that just won’t end can feel incredibly frustrating, overwhelming and disheartening. Investing in external support in the form of a Virtual Assistant could make all the difference. For more information on how we can help, please do not hesitate to get in touch.