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How to conquer your to-do list

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It's important to structure your hours and days around what you would like to achieve in the year

It's important to structure your hours and days around what you would like to achieve in the year

It's important to structure your hours and days around what you would like to achieve in the year

The business adviser gives invaluable tips and strategies on how you can accomplish more.

Make a top five

The ultimate problem is that we get distracted from doing the things that are most important to us by our busy lives, which are dominated by email and mobile phones. Put some time aside to think about five areas that you would like to focus on this year. Ask yourself: "What will move me forward in my life in a way that I value? What would give me joy? What would make me feel accomplished?" If you know what you would like to focus your year on, you can then structure your days and hours around those chosen things, and begin to make traction.

Create a six-box to-do list

On a piece of paper, draw a line vertically, and two lines horizontally, to create six boxes. Label five boxes with your areas of focus for the year, then populate these boxes with tasks that will help you achieve them. If a task does not fit in any of those boxes - for instance, buying a pair of shoes - put it in the sixth box. We tend to put off the things that are most important to us because they're the most challenging, and instead spend time ticking off our sixth box. Aim to spend 95pc of your time ticking off the tasks in your five boxes, and 5pc on the sixth box. If you don't update your to-do list, it soon becomes a six-month-old guilt list. Refer to your six-box to-do list as a working document that you update daily.

Plan your diary strategically

Schedule your to-do list into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day, before you are distracted by emails. Since your entire list will not fit into your diary, you need to prioritise your list. Make sure to schedule some time for your sixth box. Of course, there will be tasks left on your to-do list that you can't fit into your diary. Nevertheless, it is fantastic to be aware of these ahead of time. Equally, consider your not-to-do list and take anything out of your diary that is not imperative for that day.

Take a pause

Spend 18 minutes a day finding your focus. Break it up: five minutes in the morning, a minute each hour of your working day, and five minutes in the evening. In the morning, spend five minutes choosing the most important tasks from your six-box to-do list, and structure them into your calendar. Set an alarm on your watch or phone to go off every hour. When it beeps, take a minute to breathe and ask yourself, "Am I doing what I most need to be doing right now?" Though they are short, these one-minute breaks encourage you to refocus, and will save you hours of time. Finally, at the end of the day, take five minutes to consider what you've learnt. What worked and what didn't; what did you accomplish?

Sunday Indo Life Magazine