Q&A Wednesday: Help! I can’t crack through my to-do’s

On our Facebook Q&A Wednesday, fan Diane lamented about her ability to stay focused on her to-do’s and follow through on tasks and asked us for advice.

I can’t seem to get a handle on keeping track of all my to-do’s and I jump from thing to thing without finishing and doing only one thing from start until finish eludes me…any suggestions?

To-do’s are a lot like vines.

Each one like a little tendril, looping around and around your brain in the hopes of gaining traction. And then when it does get a foothold, it quickly sprouts new to-do leaves and project offshoots, which sprout new to-do leaves and offshoots, and, and, and.

If you don’t have a mechanism for directing them, this is what happens:

Disorganized to-do lists choke up the works - making it impossible to focus
{image via: Illinois}

They choke up the works. The distinction that you need to make sense of life, to discern between various projects, life spheres (work, home, kids, etc) all blurs into one, giant “noisy” mess. It’s impossible to focus.

And, man, is that stressful. It’s like having distracting static blaring that you can’t turn off: chchchhchchchchhchchchchchchchchch.

But when you have a mechanism for organizing your to-do’s, all of a sudden things go
from this:

Disorganized to-do lists choke up the works - making it impossible to focus

to this:

When you give structure to your to-do's good things happen
{image via: Southern Living}

The to-do’s aren’t an overpowering “thing” anymore. YOU are in control.

The number one way to make this happen: hold a weekly (or daily) strategy session with yourself.

This approach is at the core of our Kickstart Boot Camp program because it’s that powerful. Here are the basics:

Step 1: Get the noise out of your head, and on to paper. Take all of the possible to-do’s running around your head and get them on paper to stop the noise.

Step 2: Objectively go through and select the to-do’s that matter to you…that will move your life forward n the way you want it to go.

Step 3: Schedule your priority to-do’s for the week ahead. Assign a day, and if it helps you – a time, to do them.

Step 4: Make it a weekly ritual.

This is what habit researchers would call a keystone habit — a process that, done consistently over time, transforms everything.

Important Implementation Note

It takes time for your brain to get used to this approach. Don’t expect yourself to go from a to-do jungle to ordered garden in one week. Take a gradual test-and-learn approach. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t crack through every to-do on your weekly plan the first time. Focus on what you learned from the process and ask yourself how you could improve in the coming week. Understand what got in your way. Where were you distracted and why? Get curious instead of defeated.

And before you know it, you’ll be in control again.

How do you decide what’s on your to-do list? Do you decide? If not, how might your daily life feel if you DID?