Want a Doable To-Do List? Start with Planning.

Look around
Planning gets you to doable.

Having a doable to-do list is a huge relief.

But how do you move from overwhelming to doable?

I mean, we all know that finding time to complete the items on your to-do list is an ongoing challenge. So how will planning help?

Getting to Doable

Let’s take a step back and look at a slightly different challenge:  Organizing and decluttering your to-do list.

When you’re trying to work with large lists of items clamoring for attention, that quickly becomes very discouraging.  I have a friend who jots notes to herself on scraps of paper and sticky pads, putting them into her datebook as the day goes on.

Eventually, that date book looks like it’s filled with confetti. Sometimes the notes fall out, or get covered by other notes. She manages, but it’s a challenge to keep up with it all, and sometimes things do get lost in the shuffle.

Try this…

I encourage my clients to take time to plan, prioritize, declutter, and review.

Even if it’s only five minutes, spending time on this at the beginning and end of the day really helps.

Each piece of this process is important, so I’m going to focus on each separately over the next several posts. And we’ll start with planning.

Choose your view of what’s doable…

Planning is like scanning the landscape from up in the air.

You choose the altitude that you want for your vantage point.  And that will determine how detailed your planning is. 

So, for example, looking at things and planning from 35,000 feet will give you a very wide view. On the other hand, surveying your day from 500 feet may give you more detail than you need.  You’ll find your optimal vantage point as you practice.

What do you look for?

Basically, as you scan the vista, you need to get the lay of the land, note any barriers, and decide on a route. What you’re determining is how you’re going to travel through your day.

It’s important to know where you’re starting, where you want to end up, the major intersections and turning points along the way, and how much baggage you’re going to travel with.

And it’s also important to consider how you are feeling.

A map moves you to doable…

Having a plan doesn’t mean that there won’t be a need to make changes (or that luggage won’t sometimes get lost) as the day unfolds.

But it gives you a map. Ideally, your map will include alternate routes for any unforeseen contingencies. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail about those routes, but having that map gives you a sense of direction AND allows you to be flexible and agile when necessary.

As we start a new week, try planning your to-do list for Monday and Tuesday.  Play with your vantage point, and notice how it all feels and works for you. 

And for more help…

The Five-Column Time Estimation Template gives you a flexible and practical format for working with time estimates and sharpening your time-planning skills.

  • See where you under or over-estimate your time.
  • Notice patterns and start addressing them.

Let’s explore time together…

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