How to handle to do list angst

Leanne Gouck from Business Aide gives some tips on how to plan ahead.


‘To Do’ list angst has hit us all at some point in our working, or personal lives. The constant battle to remain organised and ahead of the game, juggling competing deadlines and striving to exceed all objectives and expectations.

Of course, a To Do list is great for increasing productivity and keeping us focused on the job in hand, but this is only the case if our list is used effectively.

So, how can you distinguish if you are using the tool appropriately or completely mismanaging? Ask yourself this – how do you cope when faced with the unexpected? That 4:30pm project lands hot and heavy on your desk – completion time one hour from now! An IT failure kicks in as you are running your already late management report. A staff shortage occurs at peak time.

If you are anything like me, the thought of all the above will have your body flushed with anxiety!

Just like life, ‘To Do’ list madness will come in peaks and troughs – however, if your peaks are a little too peaky and your mood is a little too troughy, then it is definitely time to re-evaluate your position!

Check out Business Aide’s handy hints and tips for making the most of your ‘To Do’ list.

A guide for dealing with the ‘To Dos’ in life…

  • Aim to organise your ‘To Do’ list the night before. You will sleep better knowing you are prepared for the next working day – and bonus, you will start your day knowing exactly what you hope to achieve.
  • If you are old school like me, you will prefer the To Do list paper template. For the techies, digital To Do lists are available on Google and even the Apple Watch for those on the go. Whatever you decide, just make sure you create it visually somewhere. This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised by the amount of people solely relying on their memory to monitor and organise their work schedule. You don’t need this pressure!
  • Be sure to define the purpose of each task and your expected date of completion. There is a big difference between urgent tasks and those work in progress types! This will help you prioritise.
  • Recognise that your list is fluid. Expect the unexpected so that when it happens, you can accept it and move on.
  • If you fail to complete your To Do list – don’t dwell on it too much. A recent survey found that 41% of ‘To Do’ lists never get completed. You are human and there is always tomorrow.
  • Do evaluate reasons for missed deadlines; in the majority of cases, this failure can be attributed to incidents beyond your control e.g., a network failure, the info you needed not being available etc.
  • Be willing to ask team members to lend a hand. Delegation is a skill in itself, embrace and develop it!
  • Explore time management techniques. At Business Aide, we champion the Pomodoro technique, breaking the working day into intervals and assigning tasks to each. This focus and flow approach helps minimise distractions and it’s great for self-evaluation. Unfortunately, it will not work for every industry, but you can use it on various tasks. Discover what works for you in terms of time management. If it works well, repeat it.
  • Don’t be tempted to skip lunch and work late too often. Yes, flexibility is important in the workplace, but regular breaks for your physical and mental health are absolutely key in preventing burn out. It’s also a legal requirement!
  • Consider outsourcing tasks.

*Leanne Gouck is founder of Business Aide, which can help with a whole host of project support functions, including administration, SEO, scheduling, copywriting and proof reading.

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