Cut Your To Do List in Half

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  Have you ever felt like your ‘to do’ list never has an end?  Do you sometimes feel like you have so much to do you don’t know where to start so you just don’t start?  Perhaps instead you decide to roll-over and catch a few more zzz’s, only to wake up later and feel even worse than you did before because your ‘to do’ list is still there.

If so, it’s time to stop the madness I say!

Maybe the problem is you actually do have too much on your ‘to do’ list which is why you are feeling so overwhelmed.  If that’s the case, start taking action by following these simple steps:

Begin by looking at your list and identifying the tasks by category.  Some categories you might want to consider are:  administration, housekeeping, children, yard work, home maintenance, organization, well-being, learnings.  Once you have identified your categories, group your tasks into them.

Next, begin to identify which categories you can outsource and which ones MUST be done by you.  This is where people get tripped up.  They think things like “no one else can do it as well as I can” or “yah right – and where is the money going to come from for me to pay someone to do this?” or “it will take more time for me to show someone how to do it than for me to do it myself” or my favourite, “there’s something wrong with me if I can’t do it all myself.”

I’ll address each of these separately.

  • First, no one else can do it as well as you can.  Well, this may in fact be true.  However, the question is, are you doing it now?  If it’s remaining on your ‘to do’ list because you never seem to be able to get to it, then perhaps having someone else do it, although maybe not as well, will be better than not having it done at all.
  • Second, where’s the money going to come from to pay for someone else to do this?  Think outside the box a little for this one.  What can you offer someone in exchange for their help?  (Bartering is what used to happen before money was invented.)

Still, you may think, “Well if I had time to offer them my services, I’d have time to do xyz.”

Maybe, but, maybe not.

Sometimes, when it’s a skill we have that we are using, we can do things much quicker than when we try applying a skill we don’t have.  For example, maybe you enjoy gardening and could offer fresh veggies to someone in return for someone else to clean out and organize your garage?  I know a bookkeeper who has offered her services to me in exchange for free coaching.  Someone else I know just hired a student to do a couple of days worth of filing.  The cost was peanuts to them and it offered them such a relief to get it off their plate.

  • Third, it will take me longer to train someone than it will for me to do it myself.  This may be true if you needed to do this task only once.  However, if it’s a task you will need to do again in the future, it will probably save you time to invest in the short-term, training someone how to do it for the long-term benefit of them continuing to do it.
  • There is something wrong with me if I can’t do everything myself.  This is just crazy talk.  Who does everything themselves?  Do you clean your own chimney?  Create your own computer programs?  Fix your own ailments?  Write your own Wills?  NO ONE does everything themselves.  You don’t need to be The Queen of England to have a ‘team’ of folks to rely on.  If you think about it, I’m sure you already have a number of team members – Accountants, Lawyers, Doctors, Hair Stylists, Dentists, Vets, Babysitters, Dry Cleaners.  Why is it ok to rely on someone else to do things some of the time, but not all of the time?

Perhaps because you feel it’s ok to rely on others if you don’t have the necessary skill set but if you do have the skill, you yourself should do the work?  Well, here’s the thing.  None of us are good at everything we can do.  Sure, we may be able to clean our own house but are you good at it?  Do you enjoy it?  If you don’t, then why not pass it onto someone else who does enjoy it and therefore can probably do it faster and better than you can?  There is no shame in this.  It just makes good sense.

Go through each of the items you have identified as something that can be outsourced and get creative on how to make this happen.   The old saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, applies here.

Look at the items left on your ‘to do’ list that only you can do and identify the quickest and easiest tasks.  Do these first.  Crossing something off of your to do list will feel good and will help you move forwards.

Now for the bigger tasks left on your ‘to do’ list.  The first thing to do is start the task.  Start it by breaking it down into smaller tasks.  Once you’ve identified smaller tasks, break those smaller tasks down – again.  In fact, you may need to do this three or four or five times before you get them into manageable tasks.  Dr. Martha Beck, the Oprah Winfrey Show Life Coach who I trained with, refers to these as “turtle steps”.  For example, Martha told me the other day she was feeling stuck about editing her soon-to-be released new book.  She decided to break the task down by committing to edit for only 15 minutes that day.  The following day she did the same thing.  Guess what?  It worked.  She started working on something that from the onset looked too daunting to take on.  However, breaking it down into smaller turtle steps allowed her to (i) make a commitment and (ii) complete her commitment for the day and check it off of her ‘to do’ list.  Yes, tomorrow it will appear on the ‘to do’ list again, but her commitment for the day has been met and she is that much further ahead of getting it off of her ‘to do’ list for good.  Try it yourself.

I walked myself through these steps earlier this week.  I was feeling overwhelmed with everything that I was trying to do so I began by looking at my list and deciding what I really needed to be doing and what I could outsource.  I was surprised to find out just how much I had on my list that could be outsourced considering I pride myself to be a good delegator (just ask some of my former employees!!)  Once I did this, I immediately found a sense of relief knowing that I didn’t have to do EVERYTHING that’s on my list.  Even though I hadn’t sorted out who I was going to outsource all my outsourced items to, I still felt relief knowing that my actual personal ‘to do’ list was much smaller now.

So try it out…..you might surprise yourself just how good at this you can get.  Once you master it at home, try it in the workplace.  Ladies in particular, look around and learn from your male colleagues.   Chances are, they are already doing this in the workplace and maybe even at home (has your husband ever delegated to you?) and they’re considered a success by their boss!

2016-10-15T20:55:22+00:00

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