Quit your to-do list and spend more time prioritising

change leadership change management prioritisation project management project success Jul 30, 2023
Lata in blue top smiling; text: quit your to-do list and prioritise

There’s nothing I love more than a to-do list. That practice of writing down or typing a task then ticking it off is like glee to my A-Type personality. And yes - I’ve been guilty of writing a task after it’s been completed simply to have the pleasure and pride of instantly ticking it off. Whether you write it in a notebook, throw it onto cards on an agile wall, or add it to a tasking app in your phone - if you’re like me, you’ll know how hard it is to break this habit. 


But the problem with a to-do list is that often we’ve got more on it than we can practically complete. We are over-ambitious and a little delusional about how long things may take and the fact that while we might be super organised, efficient, and diligent, the people we work with or rely on to help us complete those tasks may not match our style. So day-after-day, month-after-month, we never get through our to-do list. We feel frustration and shame, and those open loops of non-completion feel like they roll on endlessly. Our to-do list feels like pressure rather than power. 


The solution is a 3rd “P”: Prioritisation. And this may not be new news to you but prioritising is still super hard when there’s so many people to meet and promises to keep and action to take and magic to make.


So here’s 5 Lata tips and tricks to help you shift your never-ending to-do list to feel fun, achievable and empowering:


1. Work in blocks, not tasks: When I did Tony Robbins’ “Time of Your Life” audio program, I learnt the concept of RPM blocks. This is where you choose 3-4 blocks for your day or month or year or life and you start by listing those, instead of every little task. And… it’s not based on the completion of the tasks but on the outcome of the block, which is usually how you’ll feel. So I might have a bunch of tasks related to mapping stakeholders, meeting stakeholders, collecting impacts, and completing the impact assessment. But the RPM block that these roll up to (or “chunk up” to if you’re in my Leading Successful Change program) might be more high level: “Connect with people far and wide to build strong relationships and trust”. And in this block, I may even put some personal social events with friends and family, because those will help me reach that holistic outcome. I use RPM blocks in my weekly and monthly planning, so when I get to the end of the week or month, even if I haven’t completed all the tasks, I can feel proud and satisfied that I’ve achieved my experiential goals.


2. Leave space for new tasks and priorities: When you’re sitting down to plan your to-dos, don’t fill up the page or wall. Just like when you’re working agile, go to 80% and leave a 20% buffer for the inevitable additions and pivots that will come up. Then when they do, instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’ll know you had that time or capacity available. And if you’ve got spare time at the end - what a bonus! Go do something super fun or relaxing or energising and reward yourself for your awesomeness.


3. Prioritise things that give you energy: Ok, so from 2pm-5pm most days my brain is blurry and my energy is low. If I’m running a meeting or a workshop, I’m fine because the external stimulus lights me up and I love using that time to work with clients. But if I’m trying to do focused work or creative work it takes longer, I get irritable, and I get even more tired. So most days I make sure I do a 10-20 minute meditation which allows my brain to rest in a nap-like state (if I nap longer than 20 minutes I wake up groggy). Like a toddler, some days I don’t want to do it but I know how much better I'll feel afterwards. I might also go for a walk or meet someone for coffee or do something fun. But I prioritise things that seem like a waste of time because they give me time and energy back to do more of my to-do list.


4. Focus on the things that other people are waiting for: I always like to keep my promises and commitments so I tend to prioritise the tasks where someone is waiting for me or I need them to review/approve/complete so we can keep a process going. It’s a great external stimulus, and the only watchout is if you’re a people pleaser with bad boundaries, you may never get to your own work or life tasks. So use this tip strategically!


5. Choose just 3 must-dos each day: 3 is my lucky number and I love to work with the Rule of 3. If you’ve got a lot on your plate on a given day, stop and decide what are the 3 things you must complete. They could be across work or personal - because we are holistic beings and sometimes one area of our life needs more love than another. Everything else beyond these three things is nice-to-do - if you get to them. It just takes the pressure off.

So there’s 5 simple ways to approach your work and life with prioritisation in mind. And the beauty is: if you’re struggling with a project or organisation that just refuses to prioritise and means there’s a flood of change constantly coming down the pipeline, by you starting to shift your energy, it will have ripple effects to the people you work with. Share what you’re doing and how you’re doing things differently and you might just inspire those around you to start thinking more strategically about achievement, too!


We talk about practical work/life balance tips and tricks on our LSC Coaching Calls all the time. Our next Monthly Coaching Call is Wednesday 2 August. Join LSC now to come along - it may be one of the best priorities you decide in your life!


CLICK HERE to find out more and join Leading Successful Change


Lata xx

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