Sure-fire productivity tips for tackling your to-do list

In my legal professional days, I had a to-do list for every energetic case, which I carried with me from assembly to assembly like safety blankets. Fact be instructed, I cherished my to-do lists. However with working 12-plus-hour days and feeling like I by no means achieved fairly sufficient within the day, I truly thought I used to be unhealthy at time administration.

Again then, even on days I rocked it and accomplished an enormous transient, I’d go to cross the transient off one in every of my many to-do lists, solely to see the 48 different issues I didn’t get finished. My delight in finishing my large challenge deflated, although there was no manner I may have gotten the entire to-do list finished in a single day within the first place. That unwarranted feeling of by no means fairly maintaining (a lot much less getting forward), and subsequently by no means fairly being adequate, is what I name To-Do List Defeat.

To-do lists make us suppose we should always be capable of get all of it finished now, and after we don’t, we really feel unhealthy about ourselves and unmotivated to stand up to do it yet again tomorrow.


The excellent news is there’s one other method to managing duties and time that helps you set reasonable expectations and really meet them—one thing the unending, all-taunting to-do list fails at. This method helps you’re feeling achieved about what you bought finished as we speak as a substitute of feeling unhealthy about what you didn’t, and realistically couldn’t, do.

Block your duties

Once you’re taking a look at your to-do list, each merchandise appears the identical. Every takes up a single line, however some duties take quarter-hour whereas different initiatives take 15 hours. When utilizing a to-do list, each time you sit down to determine what to do subsequent, it’s important to suppose via how lengthy every merchandise will take, what you may have time and vitality for proper now, and what you could prioritize.

As a substitute, to create reasonable expectations of what we are able to and will match right into a single day of labor, we have to tie our duties to the period of time they’ll take to finish. By blocking time for every process in your calendar, it’s a lot simpler to guard enough time for every process, prioritize your duties based mostly on their deadlines and significance, and get an goal sense of how full your workload is.

Emotionally, because you’re now realistically planning what you are able to do, you’re feeling achieved on the finish of the day—an enormous enchancment over that fixed To-Do List Defeat.

How you can keep away from the frequent downside of underestimating

The commonest frustration I see when individuals first begin time-blocking is underestimating. Once you’re all excited to check out time-blocking, it’s a fairly large bummer whenever you shortly understand you haven’t blocked sufficient time to work on one thing. I get the frustration and have been there too, however that is truly an amazing signal: It explains how unrealistic your expectations have been and why you’ve felt overwhelmed. Now what to work on.

Perceive that that is possible the primary time you’ve tied duties to time in a concrete manner, and perceive that you just gained’t be a professional at it beginning off.


To assist alleviate the frustration as you study, I’ve two methods that can assist you enhance the probability you’ll block adequate time.

First, break down your challenge into bite-size steps and calendar every of these particular person steps. It’s frequent to suppose on the outset one thing will take you simply 10 hours however shortly understand when you break down all of the steps that it’ll take extra like 30 hours. Not solely will this method aid you extra realistically estimate a challenge’s time dedication, but it surely additionally helps you construct a recreation plan of the way you’ll accomplish every little thing over time, which is large for lowering stress and delivering high-quality work product.

The second technique is whenever you’re blocking time for a process, overestimate how lengthy you suppose it would take by two instances whenever you’re beginning. It’s higher to overestimate and give you bonus time than to underestimate and get behind.

The very best a part of this observe is that it forces you to be reasonable. You might find yourself with some preliminary frustration about how a lot much less you may get finished in a day than you need to, but it surely’s the fact you could face so that you could make the proper changes. Getting reasonable will aid you ship high quality work product, be extra dependable at work, and really go to mattress feeling happy with what you bought finished as we speak and calm about what’s on faucet tomorrow. The frustration is definitely worth the profit and is actually higher than the overwhelmed feeling of To-Do List Defeat.

Say Goodbye to To-Do List Defeat

Give time-blocking a whirl. Once you time-block every little thing in your life, you see the way it all matches collectively and the way it can all get finished over time in a practical manner—even if you happen to take that break tonight. It helps you’re feeling assured about your capacity to indicate up in your roles within the methods that you really want, and given how laborious you’re employed, it’s best to go to mattress feeling happy with the way you confirmed up as we speak and assured you are able to do it once more tomorrow.

Kelly Nolan is an legal professional turned time-management advisor who helps working ladies and entrepreneurs take management of their time and enhance their work-life stability.