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How to Keep Your To-Do List Under Control

Tired of being tied to your to-do list? Us, too. The stuff we need to get done often seems like a never ending list and life’s too short to live from task to task. We've brought in leading entrepreneur, former busyness addict, and number one bestselling author of Do Less, Get More Shaa Wasmund MBE to show you how to finally tame your to-do list and live life on your terms - all by doing less.
 
Mark off anything that’s been on your to-do list for more than two weeks
 
If it was that important, you would have done it by now, and keeping it on your list now in hope that you’ll get to it ‘soon’ is just taking up mental space. If it truly needs to get done, it will find its way back on your list in the future.
 
Do, ditch, delegate
 
You’ve got three choices with any task that comes your way: you can do it, ditch it, or delegate it.
 
Do things that you want to do, you’re the best person to do, and that need to get done. 
 
Ditch anything that doesn’t light you up or you’re simply doing out of obligation - to be honest, for most people this is at least half the things on their lists.
 
Finally, delegate anything that needs to get done but is a big time suck or drain on your energy and someone else can do better or instead of you, whether it’s hiring a cleaner, getting your partner to share the chores, outsourcing admin tasks or employing a bookkeeper…
 
Find your one thing
 
So doing less sounds good, but you’re not sure what you should do and what you should delegate? Figure out your ONE thing - that thing that you’re naturally really great at - and focus on tasks that let you work in your area of genius. Then find other people who have complementary ‘one things’ to you so you can focus on what you’re great at, and so can they. Sure, you can’t shirk everything you don’t enjoy doing - whether at home or at work, but you absolutely can start to focus more on the areas you’re best at. Being world-class at one thing beats being just good at ten.
 
Keep your to-do list to three things, max
 
This forces you to prioritise while making it easier for you to actually make progress, because you won’t get overwhelmed by looking at a never-ending list.
 
Use the 80:20 rule
 
80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts, so if you can figure out where that 20% is and only focus on that, you can proactively avoid a lot of unproductive tasks before they make it on to your to-do list. 
 
Don’t put it off
 
Whatever’s on your list that you know you have to do but you really don’t want to do - do that first. Don’t put it off - if you don’t do it first then it’s just going to be on your list the next day, the next…and probably the next. And it will be there in the back of your mind making you frustrated and anxious until you get it done.
 
Learn to say no, politely and often
 
It’s so easy to feel guilty about saying no because you don’t want to let anyone down. But life is way too short to overcommit yourself, and you need to give yourself time to focus on projects, people and plans you actually want to say yes to.
 
Batch your work
 
If you have things that you need to do over and over again, set aside time to do them in big batches. For instance, if you know you’re going to need to cook throughout the week, do it all on Sunday and don’t worry about it for the rest of the week.
 
Don’t forget about your end goal
 
What’s the end goal of the tasks on your list - writing a book, buying a new house, building a business that lets you live life on your terms? Always remember your end goal, and use it as a filter for your to-do list. Anything that doesn’t take you closer to your end goal can automatically be out.
 
Check in regularly
 
It’s so easy to clear off your to-do list, only to see it creep back up a few weeks later. Schedule in regular time every week to clear off any old tasks and make sure that you’re focused on what you really need to be doing.
 
Do Less, Get More is published by Penguin (£12.99).