Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Simplified To-Do List: 3 Most Important Things

Simplified To-Do List: 3 Most Important ThingsHere’s a simple habit that can help you prioritize what you need to do each day. Try making a list of your Three Most Important Things for the day. Every day, write down three things you must accomplish. These are the three things you must do before going to bed — anything else you get done is gravy. It’s a lot less overwhelming than staring at a long to-do list each day, and it’s a good way to break down big tasks into smaller ones. Tasks can range from a few minutes to complete to longer, more involved projects, depending on the day’s schedule.

I keep one regular running to-do list using Wunderlist, and I differentiate my Three Things by using the star feature that highlights high priority. Each night, I look at my to-do list and choose my Three Things for the next day. That’s it. I must do those three things, but I don’t *have* to do anything else.

Some people may find it helpful to write their Three Things on a different list entirely so that they only see those Three Things. I like to keep an overview of what I want to do handy, so using the high priority star works for me to define my Three Things.

Every day, do your three most important things, whatever they may be. When you’re done, if you’ve got the time and motivation, check the rest of your to-do list and work on that. If not, that’s OK. You did your three most important things. Grab a drink and go relax.

Simplified To-Do List: 3 Most Important Things

7 Choices to Make Now to Simplify Your Life

7 Choices to Make Now to Simplify Your LifeSimplifying can be overwhelming, but the good news is you don’t have to do it all at once. It’s more likely to “stick” if you take it slowly and deliberately. Streamlining your habits one or two at a time can make a big difference. Here are seven choices you can make that can simplify your life. Choose one or two to try this week.

  1. Drop one commitment. Think about all the things in your life that you’re obligated to do and try to find one you can let go. Is there something you dread doing? Something that takes up time but doesn’t give you much value in return? Decide today to drop that commitment. Make a phone call or send an email, and let the appropriate people know that you need to stop. You’ll feel relieved, and you’ll free up some time and energy for something that’s more important to you.
  2. Purge something. Just one small area. Not a room or the house or even a whole closet. Pick one small space that’s bothering you. Here’s how to purge: 1) Empty everything from the drawer/shelf/corner into a pile. 2) From this pile, pick out only the most important things, the stuff you use and love. 3) Get rid of the rest. Right now. Trash it, or put it in your car to give away or donate. 4) Put the stuff you love and use back, in a neat and orderly manner. 5) Celebrate.
  3. Simplify your to-do list. If your daily to-do list is more than 10 items long, you can probably cut it down it a bit. Try to find a few tasks that can be eliminated, delegated or automated. Shorten the list. You don’t have to do everything now. Try out my To-Do List downloadable worksheet to organize your tasks daily, one week at a time.
  4. Clear your desk. If your desk is covered with papers, notes, gadgets and office supplies, you need to take a look at what can go. Your desk should have your computer, your inbox, perhaps a notepad, and maybe a cherished photo. From now on, put everything in your inbox, and process it at least once a day. Store the office supplies and gadgets in a drawer, and file those papers where you’ll be able to find them when you need them.
  5. Clear your email inbox. This has the same psychological effect as a clear desk. Is your email inbox always full of read and unread messages? That’s because you’re delaying decisions on your emails. If your inbox has been piling up for awhile, this could take longer than one day. Try putting all the messages in a temporary folder and go through them one chunk at a time (do 20 per day or so). Your choices are to delete, archive, respond immediately (then archive or delete), forward (then archive or delete), or flag it and note it on your to-do list (then archive or delete). Process each email like that until the inbox is empty. Going forward, each time you check your email, process it to empty.
  6. Schedule more time. We rush through the day, from one appointment or task to the next, until we collapse on the couch, exhausted, at the end of the day. Instead, simplify your life by doing less, then schedule more time for each task. If you normally allow 15 minutes between appointments, schedule 30. If it normally takes you 30 minutes to drive to that errand, give yourself 45 minutes. Eat slower, drive slower, walk slower, work slower. Savor the slowness and the calmness that comes from not hurrying.
  7. Single-task. Instead of multi-tasking, do one thing at a time. We’ve been conditioned to think that multi-tasking is “the” way to work, but really it can be overwhelming and distracting. Resist the urge to check email or do some other habitual task while you’re completing the task at hand. Stick to that one task until you’re done. It’ll make a huge difference in both your stress level and your productivity.
7 Choices to Make Now to Simplify Your Life