Things to Do: Reduce Stress by Knocking out To-Do Lists

Article excerpt

To-do lists reveal a multitude of tasks of varying importance with due dates speeding to maturity. When one project is completed, 10 others replace it. Completing all the tasks may seem as likely as Barry Manilow singing gangster rap.

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If the tasks don't get completed, however, overwhelming feelings might ensue, and important projects will be delayed. The following steps will help lighten the load and ensure to-do-list items are dwindling instead of exponentially increasing.

Dispose: Eliminate projects providing little or no return. If an item has been on a to-do list for more than six months, it probably shouldn't have been placed there to begin with. Don't clutter to-do lists with items offering little or no return that may never be completed; remove them, and make room for important items.

Prioritize: Making room for important items requires prioritizing. Consider tasks' importance, payoff and urgency. Spending time on high-payoff items will alleviate any pressure to spend too much time on items offering fewer payoffs.

Delegate: If someone else can do the work, assign it. Low- to middle-priority tasks can often be delegated without negative consequences. Releasing control and freeing oneself of tasks others can handle can dramatically impact workload.

Work for excellence, not perfection: It's not only acceptable, but it makes sense to complete some projects imperfectly. This is not to say quantifiable results can be incorrect; but some work simply does not warrant extensive time. Determine the level of quality needed and know when to stop fine tuning. …