To-do lists make you invincible!

pencil and checklist

Again I start a blog post with an over-statement… Or do I?

The humble to-do list makes me feel invincible. Why? Because they make me feel in control of my life and they make me feel good when I cross something off them – they make me feel like I am achieving something. They conquer my fear. It’s that simple.

Over the years, I have read a number of time management articles (heck I’ve written a couple of them!) and one thing I’ve noticed is that they all say pretty much the same thing or things. The tips are the same – just written differently and from different points of experience – and to be honest most of them are common sense.

But when you are struggling against a never ending list of things to do, a mountain of admin and more – then time management seems like a pretty good idea. But can I tell you something? Time management – when you drill down into it – is a solution to a problem and that problem is usually (for most of us anyway) procrastination.

You might not agree. I could see why. You may feel that your time management problems are down to too much work, not being organised enough, not using time effectively or another reason.

Need helpBut I think in the majority of cases we cause our own time management crises day in and day out. How? By putting things off. Why? Simple… Fear.

Fear & Procrastination in Las Office

Not heart stopping, terrifying and paralysing fear – the more innocuous kind: the “I don’t really want to make that call”, “I don’t like dealing with that person”, “I’m not sure I can do this” fear.

This fear leads to procrastination which leads to things not getting done which leads to a growing list of things to-do and then a panic moment that leads you to searching frantically on the internet for time management articles.

To-do lists, although sometimes a cause of that panic and need to search for time management articles, if you take away the fear and procrastination, they are very helpful tools.

I do a new to-do list everyday. This is the key. Do NOT have a to-do list that gets longer and longer – if you are already in the grip of procrastination and fear then this will not help.

So get a fresh piece of paper every day and start your to-do list. If you notice that you are starting it with the same tasks over and over again then you need to put a big red cross next to these tasks and write FEAR next to it.


Kicking fear up the butt

Tasks that you never seem to get done are ones you are procrastinating on and funny enough they won’t go away – so can you imagine the relief when you kick that fear up the backside and cross that task off (after two months)? That feeling is addictive…

Just like people who have become exercise fanatics I have turned into a crossing off fanatic – whenever I do a task I know I have been putting off for a while I feel invincible! It gives me such a boost of confidence and achievement that I feel buoyed up all day.

And by the way it’s ok to procrastinate, it’s ok to not want to do things, it’s ok to lose motivation one day. You shouldn’t feel bad about this – because it happens to everyone.

It’s not just you…

EVERYONE running their own business goes through this – no matter how organised and up-for-it and unstoppable they seem on the outside, when they are at home, in their office, on their own, they have the same doubts, fears and worries that we all do.

swim with sharksSo I would suggest the answer is to simply recognise that you are procrastinating about something (hence the big red cross and FEAR on your to-do list), acknowledge it, have a think about why you aren’t doing this particular task, think about the worst thing that could happen if you do actually do it, and then do it anyway. It’s not going to kill you, unless you swim with sharks for a living!

So that’s how a simple to-do list can conquer your fear and make you feel invincible – or at the very least a little more in control and motivated again.