How to focus when the To-Do-List is just flooded with tasks? I know that I should just focus on one thing at a time. But here`s what usually happens: I start on one thing while thinking about something else at the same time, switching to a third task not focussing properly on anything – and at the end of the day I don`t even know what I`ve been doing all day. There are two fairly simple things that have helped me stay more focused lately.
One priority of the day
Firstly, choosing one priority of the day. One single priority that I want to get accomplished and that will bring me a little closer to my main goal. I most likely will have more tasks to do on that day but even if all else fails I`m kind of ok knowing that I`ve done what I meant to have done.
Secondly and most importantly: a new system to approach my many to-dos and organize my day. I adapted it from the system I heard about in the podcast “The next right thing” by Emily P. Freeman. The episode I`m talking about is Episode 10 “Be where you are“ in case you want to listen to it for yourself.
The next right thing
So here`s how I now organize and do my To-Dos: I write my To-Do-List and then (and here`s the trick!) I choose one task and write it down in my calendar on the current day. Then I do that task and try not to let myself get distracted. Once the job is done, I cross it off my calendar and the list. Then I will move to the next To Do: write it in my calendar under the current date, do the task, and cross it off my calendar, and off the list.
This is what Emily P. Freeman says about her system: “… Instead of seeing everything at once, it forces me to simply focus on the next right thing.
In seasons of intense activity, recording your next right thing in a list becomes a sort of liturgy, a way to slow yourself down and simply take the next right step. (…)”
Record of the day
“And if you’re motivated by a completed list, like I am, it can be satisfying at the end of the day, to have a record of what happened that day, instead of an anemic list of all the things that you didn’t finish. (…) Writing down your next right thing is just one way to perhaps slow you down, root you in the present, and help you be where you are rather than trying to rush ahead to get where you think you need to be.”
In this context, I also recommend listening to the following podcast: “Wish you had more time? What you really want to have is more memories” – Episode 495 of “The Art of Manliness”. The guest of this episode is Laura Vanderkam who is exploring the perception of time. She makes notes of everything she does during the course of the day. By recording her day she feels more in control of her time. It also prevents her days from passing in a blur of activities barely taken note of.