Personal Productivity

Motiv8 – 8 Sure Ways to Stay Motivated While on Your To Do Lists Part 1

How to manage your to do list effectively
wrote this on July 9, 2012 / 2 comments

Did last week feel unproductive? Do you find yourself with a boatload of tasks still pending completion? If you’re having those kinds of problems it can stem from three reasons:

  1. You’re not motivated enough.
  2. You’re not organized enough.
  3. You’re only human and as a result not perfect.

The first two reasons are a result of your poor planning habits and can be remedied easily.  Alas, the third is a terminal condition that you’ll have to learn to deal with.

During the years, I picked up a few rituals (or habits) that I’d like to share with you in this two part series. I repeat these rituals at the beginning of each new week to make sure that the last week’s residue doesn’t affect me going forward.  I prepare a few lists which I call my motiv8 lists.

The principal behind the lists is simple!

Gather all your tasks together, categorize them, identify possible hurdles and surround yourself with resources that can help you close tasks fast while staying focused. You do that by giving your lists names, structure and purpose that in the end will leave you with a smaller, more doable lists. Your to do list needs a categorization method that can help you complete your actions faster, GTD has a way of dealing with lists categorization that I adjusted a bit to give it a structure that suites my daily routine, save time and energy while keeping me laser focused and motivated.

Let’s begin with the first and most important list.

1# The dead of night list (temporary list) – almost everyone I know loses sleep because of unfinished to-do’s or pending tasks. Losing sleep has a two-fold effect on your productivity and motivation; it slows you down and takes you out of focus.

Well, when thoughts start swirling in my head before shut-eye, I get up and write down a list of tasks to address the following day.  If you don’t acknowledge bothersome tasks, they will sabotage your sleep and as a result, you’ll start your week off on the wrong foot.

Now, although it’s not a “real list” per say, it helps clear your mind to get a better night’s rest.

2# The eat that frog list – You have them, I have them, everybody has them.  These are tasks that we’ll do everything to avoid. We burn a lot of energy just to procrastinate and put them off.  In the process, they consume too much of our mental resources.

Brain Tracy called those tasks “eat that frog” tasks.  He explains that you’ll have to get rid of those tasks as you begin your day because those are probably the most draining tasks both mentally and energy wise.  Tackle them while you are fresh; do them first and work on replenishing your energy sources afterwards.

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3# The Two minutes list (temporary list) – after swallowing those frogs, you’ll either be extremely motivated or extremely drained (depends on how much you’re trained in the fine art of “Doing”). Make sure you start slow by climbing back on top of your list focus on completing two-minute tasks, e.g., quick email response, phone calls, etc.

Completing a lot of two minute tasks in repeated succession has a wonderful influence on our confidence and ability to achieve tasks…

4# The confidence booster list – According to the Pick the Brain blog, a key motivation killer is a lack of confidence. When this happens, it’s usually because the focus is on what I want and neglecting what I already have. When you only think about what you want, your mind creates explanations for why you aren’t getting it. This creates negative thoughts. Past failures, bad breaks, and personal weaknesses dominate your mind.

To combat this, keep a list of all your previous week’s accomplishments. Hang that list high so when you need a confidence boost, you can glance at it and relive some of your recent accomplishments.  This list is all about reminding yourself how great you are.  It may sound strange, but repeating things you already know can influence your mindset and it’s amazingly effective. The mind distorts reality to confirm what it wants to believe, and when you’re working, you want to believe in success!

The other four lists will be published in Motiv8 – 8 Sure Ways to Stay Motivated While on Your To Do Lists Part 2!

* GTD® is a registered trademark of the David Allen Company. IQTELL is not affiliated with the David Allen Company.

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