Perhaps you can vividly remember a time when your To-Do list represented a world of opportunity. It was all the way back in time when everything on it could actually get done in a single day. It was short, sweet and compact. It felt good to get it all done, to go home with every task on your list item neatly crossed out. It felt like you were getting somewhere… you hadn’t wasted your time.
That was a simpler, Normal Rockwellesque time.
Now, your list has exploded into an alien you don’t recognize. Several pages long, it appears to be growing like a cancer – feeding off your attention, consuming your energy with every new addition. You have tried to break the addiction to adding too many tasks but it hasn’t worked: you know it’s far better to write things down than attempt to juggle them in your head.
But how do you prevent your list, which is supposed to help you, from burying you alive? Here are three steps, and how SkedPal is designed to help.
Step 1 – Accept Your Creative Power
If you are experiencing the nonstop growth of your To-Do List, the chances are high that you have some Type A tendencies. Don’t panic. While Type A behavior was originally intended to be a predictor of coronary disease, I recently published an article on Lifehack showing that there’s a new interpretation afoot .
One tendency Type A’s demonstrate is a propensity to generate lots of time demands – self-generated tasks. Their unique level of drive, ambition and creative energy naturally produces lots of commitments. While others are watching television, they are busy thinking up new and better ways to engage in life. They are people who want to take better quality vacations, holidays, and naps, even using breaks between tasks to recharge, not be idle.
However, in response to a burgeoning To-Do List some try to limit its length – big mistake. It’s a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. The first step is, therefore, to stop suppressing yourself, if you are, and accept your propensity for this rare, but highly productive behavior.
Step 2 – Separate Capturing from Listing
Many people are confused – they don’t understand the need to split Capturing from Listing.
Capturing is the act of saving a time demand (or potential time demand) in a temporary place called a Capture Point. Examples of such places include a text file on your smartphone or a paper pad. Some ineffective people still use their memory, a holdover from their teenage years when they had few time demands to manage.
Listing involves the addition of a time demand to a To-Do List. It’s the result of a decision to execute the time demand.
Between these two skills (Capturing and Listing) lies another: Emptying. It’s defined as the act of deciding what to do with a time demand lying in a Capture Point.
Here’s an example of how they work together.
You are sitting in a meeting and realize that you must do some work on a report. You write down the time demand “Work on report” in your Capture Point – a paper pad. The next morning, you go through your Capture Point in your process of Emptying and realize you have to make a decision. What’s the best way to keep track of the time demand “Work on report”?
You decide to add it to your To-Do List, which happens to be a software program used to manage tasks.
The mistake people often make is to use a single list as their Capture Point and their To-Do List.
This isn’t a problem when you have a small number of time demands. Unfortunately, you probably don’t. As a result, you may be suffering from the fact that the use of a single list for both purposes doesn’t scale.
As a result, it’s absolutely critical for people with lots of time demands to make this distinction, even though other people who manage fewer time demands don’t. Your large number of time demands puts you in a different reality, where special techniques are needed. It’s a must-do if you hope to stay out of overwhelm.
Step 3 – Use More of Your Calendar Than Your List
If you have already implemented Steps 1 and 2 and still have a problem, then it may be time to make the next transition. The third step involves managing your time demands with a calendar rather than a To-Do list.
If this sounds formidable, it should. Manually scheduling all your tasks in a digital calendar is a highly refined skill that takes a great deal of time to master. While it’s optional for most, it’s also a must for people who manage lots of time demands. You may be experiencing the limits of a long To-Do List and wondered why it’s no longer working the way it used to.
The reason is simple. Long To-Do Lists require too much memory. Here’s why.
Research shows that the most effective people make specific plans for the day, a schedule of what they plan to do and when. People who don’t write down their plan must, instead, make a mental plan. When the inevitable disruption takes place they have to recall this mental plan and what was on it, balance it against all the items on their To-Do list that aren’t on the plan for the day, and finally make a new mental plan.
Once again, this is easy when the number of items is small. However, if you have a long To-Do numbering in the hundreds, this task becomes a necessary, tedious burden.
Fortunately, SkedPal offers a way out.
The program is specifically designed to make scheduling easy for people who have long To-Do Lists. Most of them have already encountered the advice of authors like Kevin Kruse and other, who advocate the placement of all time demands in their calendars. Many actually try but fail… a sad outcome that leaves them dispirited. The fact that they have failed has stalled the growth.
SkedPal is designed to get them over the hump. It uses AI and patented innovations like Time Maps to optimize a user’s calendar with a single click. As a result, it takes away the source of most failures… the tedious, manual effort required to manage a calendar full of time demands.
This transformation has the potential to lift the capacity of anyone with a long To-Do List. They no longer need to be limited by the challenges of scheduling everything manually. They experience a freedom to create new time demands without limits, trusting SkedPal to optimally schedule all of them in just a few seconds.
In other words, the program can take you back to a simpler time when you felt as if you were managing all your time demands effectively. The big difference is that you are no longer a newbie, trying to manage a small number of tasks. Now, as a highly productive professional, you need a tool that’s designed for a specific purpose – the attainment of your freedom.