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A simple strategy for managing your to-do list

“One of the causes of emotional and mental health issues is juggling the responsibilities of a busy lifestyle.”

Most of us feel that we have more items on our to-do list than then the time to get them all done.

Speaking at a recent NationaLease meeting, Peter James, time management expert, More Time In My Day, said we operate with a large to-do list and work like crazy trying to check everything off it. Our culture equates being overwhelmingly busy with being successful. And interestingly, James shared findings from a Harvard Medical School report that said, “One of the causes of emotional and mental health issues is juggling the responsibilities of a busy lifestyle.”

However, he was quick to add that where you spend time is your choice. In that scenario, “you are not a victim, you are a chooser.”

James believes tasks can be divided into two types: 1) urgent/not urgent and 2) not important/important. His advice is to take all tasks put them into one of those categories. You can use a matrix for this with Urgent and Not Urgent on the X-axis and Important and Not Important on the Y-axis.

Once you have done that, you will need to prioritize the tasks. He suggests using an A-B-C rating where A’s are the “must be done” items; B’s the “should be done;” and C’s the “can be done. Next, further prioritize the tasks under each letter using a numbering system.

Take each item starting with A1 and transfer it to your calendar including a reasonable time slot for completing the task. Then use your calendar — and not your to-do list —  to get work accomplished.

James also reminded the group that what is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

He explained that if you want more balance in your life, you are going to have to let go of some things starting with those that fall into the not urgent/not important category.

James contends that if you prioritize tasks using his suggestions, you will find that you start to feel less stressed and have more time in the day to do things other than just work.

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