How to Design a Task List that Eliminates Distraction and Enables Hyperfocus

productivity Jul 01, 2021

Yesterday I lost my shit.


In two weeks we should be in paradise (AKA Hawaii) but we still hadn’t booked our COVID tests. I delegated it to my husband but he didn’t seem to give it the same level of importance it was currently occupying in my brain.


I pulled out my laptop determined to finally check this off my list.  In just a few mouse clicks, I realized all the free appointments were gone.  Putting this off was now going to cost us.


I was grumpy, irritated and felt rushed.  I finally found the best option and got hubby on board to complete the online paperwork.


My temper tantrum was 100% a result of a mismanaged task list. I fell off track with managing my list.  This is a reminder for me and hopefully it helps you too.


To-Do List Like a Boss


The first step is to find a system for organizing tasks that works for you. I’m not going to get into that here but I recommend finding one that works for your productivity style.


Next, let’s jump into creating that hyperfocus with these keys in mind:


Focus on the most important. Your list might be a mile long but there are a few things that are driving those goals.  Limit your list to just the tasks that move the needle in your life. For example, if your husband is a top priority scheduling a date night should be on the list


Aim for clarity. Hanging with the kids this summer. That’s a good goal but super fuzzy.  Want to make it more likely to happen? Clarify what you guys will do and when.  Try: we will take the paddle boards to the lake this Friday.  A clear task includes a verb and defined outcome.


Do it NOW. Tasks that take less than 5 minutes don’t belong on your task list.  Just do the damn thing and move on. If it takes longer to organize the task then complete doesn’t belong on the list.  True story: just now I was thinking about how I needed to make a nail appointment before this weekend’s festivities.  Before I sat down to write I just made the appointment.  It was a two minute call and one less thing running around my brain.


***One caveat to this is if you are in the middle of a focus session, write down the task to keep the focus.


Systemize whenever possible. “It’s Sunday” those two words elicit immediate groans from my kids because Sunday is chores day.  We all spend about an hour getting housework done. It’s not written on any todo list because it’s a system we’ve set up to get this place cleaned up. Whenever possible, create a system in your business or personal life.


Live in your calendar. If you ask me why you can never make progress on your goals, the first thing I will say is “show me your calendar.” How can you accomplish anything if you don’t schedule time to work on it?


People Puzzler. Oftentimes things get stuck on our list because we are waiting on other people.  See my meltdown story above. If you have one of those on your list, reach out to that person at the start of your day.  This will give you a greater chance of getting what you need to check that thing off your list today.  Don’t wait for your meltdown moment


I hope that these six points help you design a to-do list that is a tool not a burden.

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