Spring Clean Your To-Do List

You know that feeling when tasks have been sitting on your to-do list so long, that you deflate just thinking about them? When considering where to focus your ‘urge to purge’ this Spring Cleaning Season-- consider a less obvious place...your to-do List.

There are two ways to get things off your to-do list: 1) delete anything that isn’t worth the time invested; 2) tackle the important projects you’ve been procrastinating on. Nothing feels more liberating than catching up on your backlog, and starting with a clean slate.

Procrastination involves stalling on starting or finishing something out of anxiety rather than logic. Here are 4 ways to get over the paralysis, and Spring Clean your task list so you feel lighter and free.

  1. Define the MAX-MOD-MIN.  Procrastination is closely related to perfectionism-- the paralyzing belief that there are only two ways to do something: brilliantly or not at all. For anything that’s  been stuck on your list, first define 3 levels of performance for the task. What is the Maximum you can do, what is the Minimum you can do, what is the Moderate. Then, pick the level that seems right for the situation.

  2. Choose the best time of day. We tend to avoid the things that we feel less skilled or confident in (or we enjoy the least). For backlogged tasks that don’t come easily or naturally, make sure you set yourself up for success. Plan to do things you tend to procrastinate on at your peak energy.

  3. Break Big Projects down.  Some items on our list get stuck because we don’t have enough time to get them done in one big clump.  Break large projects down into a series of smaller, doable  actions that can be completed in 15-30 minute time blocks. Tackling large projects one step at a time fuels our sense of accomplishment and enables us to maximize smaller windows of time to drive projects forward

  4. Focus on the payoff. What one thing are you hoping to gain from completion? When filling out expense reports, think about what you will buy with the reimbursement. If you take your eye off the particular task, and focus on the happiness you’ll gain from completion, you can keep yourself moving forward.