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If you’re anything like me, you write a to-do list with all the good intentions of having a productive day.  After you’ve finally composed the list, however, you feel so overwhelmed that you immediately check out. If this sounds familiar to you, follow these simple steps to ensure you end up with a constructive list.  

  1. Identify your agenda.  What absolutely needs to be done today?  What is the goal of this productive day? Prioritize the objectives floating around your brain and pick out the ones that take top precedence and are the most time sensitive.  Anything that doesn’t fit the agenda doesn’t go on the list.
  2. Keep it simple.  Take the items from the list you brainstormed above and write down four.  Yes, you heard me – only four. The longer your list becomes, the more daunting it will seem and the more time it will actually take away from getting done the most important points!  If there are items without a deadline or less important tasks, write them on a separate master list that acts only as a brainstorming sheet.  
  3. Practice your origami.Let me explain.  Write your list going down the page.  Then, fold the list like an accordion from the bottom of the page to the top so that only your first task is visible.  This keeps you focused on completing one item at a time, rather than multi-tasking and getting distracted by all the other things that need to be done.
  4. Savor the feeling of crossing out a task. When you are done with your first (and only visible task) cross it out, add a check-mark, and draw some stars around it.  Maybe stars aren’t your thing, but take the time to visibly cross out the task. Then, unfold your accordion so that you have a new task showing.  The noticeably completed task above will boost your confidence and give you motivation to keep working on your list.

Follow these simple, but often overlooked steps and you’ll be finished with your list in no time, leaving you with more freedom to enjoy your true hobbies.