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To Do or Not To Do

That is the question.

I like making lists. No. I LOVE making lists. And over the years I've collected magazine articles on the best way to make lists.  Below are some tips and finds I came across in PSYCHOLOGIES magazine where Oliver Burkeman writes about the classic self-help book David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity aka the GTD method.

Key quote:  'There are more meaningful things than your in-basket, but if your management of that level is not as efficient as it could be, it's like trying to swim in baggy clothing"

1.  Get it out of your head. Write down every 'to do' in your life in one notebook or computer file, with 'waiting fors' - responses you expect - and even a 'someday/maybe' list of things you might like to do.  Once it's all there, your mind can stop stressing about keeping track, as it'll you know it can check what Allen calls a 'trusted system'.

2.  Ask yourself 'what's the next action?'.  Too many things don't get done because we don't clarify the next step.  Whether it's as daunting as 'save my marriage' or as dull as 'tidy the attic', neither is a physical action you can really do.  But 'find marriage counsellor' or 'get boxes' both are.  Think what you can do now.

3.  Follow the two-minute rule.  You'll save yourself a lot of hassle if you cultivate the habit of immediately doing any new, 'incoming' task that can be done in under two minutes.  We often fret for days about 'to dos' that actually take no time at all.  Need to make a doctor's appointment, just pick up the phone.

The best tip for me is whatever can be done in less than 5-minutes just do it now.  You'll actually have something to tick of your list and you'll feel SO much better for not having to worry about it.



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