Don’t try to tackle your to-do list

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Don’t try to tackle your to-do list

Mon, 07/16/2012

Be realistic when managing your to-do list instead of being discouraged when you don’t complete it.

by Chelsey Johnson, Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern

A broken piece of equipment, a visit from a neighbor, or simply losing track of time while completing a single task can wreak havoc on your to-do list. Some days we leave the barn with what seems like little to show for our efforts. However, we shouldn’t view a hard days work as a failure simply because we didn’t tackle our entire to-do list.

I am guilty of setting overambitious goals that can’t fit into the time allotted to complete them. However, the best advice I’ve received is “Don’t focus on finishing your to-do list, focus on managing it.” So rather than creating unrealistic goals that could never fit into the few hours in a day, I’ve tried taking a different time management approach. Consider the following tips that can apply to managing your list.

Plan each day. It is good to be ambitious, but take time to look at the tasks that need to be done on your dairy and decide what can realistically be completed for that day.

Prioritize your tasks. We are often attracted to completing the easy but not urgent tasks first. When you plan each day make sure that the most important and urgent tasks are at the top of your list. Also, avoid extra nonessential tasks. Sometimes you must say no to additional tasks that prevent you from reaching bigger picture goals.

Delegate as needed. Delegating can be a difficult task when it takes time to teach others how to complete a task. However, delegating a job to others can reduce your stress level and save time in the future.

Do it right the first time. If you are solely focused on reaching the end of your to-do list, you may try to cut corners to complete a task. But sometimes taking shortcuts can actually waste time when you have to fix a sloppy job. Do a quality job the first time so you don’t need to make corrections.

Don’t abandon the dreaded tasks. We all have those important but not urgent jobs we intentionally avoid. Consider breaking those daunting tasks such as cleaning up a cluttered area into small increments. Try spending just ten minutes everyday until the job is complete.

Take breaks. Sometimes we think we can’t rest until a job is done. However, this can increase your stress level and actually lose time. Don’t be afraid to take short breaks as needed.

A blog ( by staff at the Mayo clinic provides more tips on time and stress management. Facing a long list of tasks that need to be completed can be stressful before you start, but just remember, don’t focus on tackling your to-do list, focus on managing it.

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