Highly-capable people often feel compelled to take on more than can be accomplished in a single day, hour, week, or month. Sound familiar? Too many things on the to-do list lead to feeling overwhelmed and creates stress.
How can an Only-Do List help you fight back from overwhelm?
This is one of my go-to strategies to calm the screams of all of the things calling for my time, energy, and attention! Rather than writing a To-Do List, I write — and stick to — an Only-Do List!!
The trick is to commit to keeping everything else that comes up from hijacking the day. Even seemingly small asks can disrupt the flow needed to accomplish the list. It also gives me the language to say no!
“It’s not on the list for today, but I can put it on the list for tomorrow (or next week).”
There are three elements to an Only-Do List:
- The list must be achievable. Seriously, resist the temptation to keep adding to it. Ask yourself what can be completed today. If a project is too big to finish in one day, break it into smaller pieces and put a piece or two on the only-do list.
- The list needs some quick wins: There is satisfaction in completing a task. Include 4 or 5 easy tasks to complete to help you gain and keep momentum. If you get bogged down in a larger project, give yourself permission to take a break and complete a quick win.
- The list must include EVERYTHING. Suppose you have meetings, calls, or other duties to complete in the day; write them on the list. If you have 5 hours of meetings today, go back to the first element – and make sure what you put on your only-do list is achievable in the hours you have left.
Give an Only-Do List a try!!
Let me know in a comment below what worked for you.