Without a to-do list, you’ll accomplish more

Tantalus was expelled from Olympus in Greek mythology as a punishment for taking ambrosia and nectar from the gods’ meal.

He was condemned to spend all of time after death standing in a watery pit beneath the fruit tree’s branches. The branches rose and were out of his grasp if he grabbed for the fruit. The fluids drained away whenever he attempted to drink.

Call me theatrical, but making to-do lists gives me Tantalus-like feelings. As soon as you cross off the last item, a brand-new assignment appears and causes the list to grow by several days or even weeks. It irritates me. However, from elementary school onward, the majority of us are told to fight overwhelm by writing a list and checking each thing off one at a time.

Time management requires prioritizing the tasks on our agenda, as our to-do lists have taught us. The actual secret, though, is to schedule our priorities, as Stephen Covey describes in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

why scheduling is difficult.
It seems sense to believe that priorities will be taken care of on their own. After all, we should complete vital duties before beginning less important ones. But according to study, just 17% of people can predict how much time an activity will take them. The planning fallacy, also known as “positive bias,” occurs when the rest of us unwittingly underestimate how long it will take to complete virtually any task, from finishing a presentation to making it to a meeting.

Even Elon Musk, who is perhaps the most successful entrepreneur in the world today, battles with positive bias. Musk frequently sets aggressive release schedules for his many businesses. He has consistently missed these deadlines. He admitted to having a problem with time to The Washington Post in June 2018. “I’m an optimistic person by nature. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have automobiles or rockets. I’m doing everything I can to recalibrate.”

Even Kimbal Musk, Musk’s sibling, has admitted to telling his elder brother lies to avoid missing the school bus. Years later, a shareholder coined the term “Elon Time” to define the billionaire’s assured delivery, launch, and benchmark schedules.

Lose the lists, keep the strategies.
I founded JotForm 13 years ago, and we seldom ever set deadlines for projects. We emphasize producing high-quality work over hitting arbitrary deadlines, although it is fairly unusual for a technology business to not establish ambitious timeframes.

With no time constraints, our teams have the opportunity and flexibility to experiment with new concepts, go down imaginative rabbit holes, and come up with practical solutions. What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is rarely significant, as former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower is credited as saying.

Deadlines and lists may both be effective procrastination strategies. According to research, we get a high each time we tick the “completed” box. According to Ralph Ryback in Psychology Today, “Dopamine is thought to flood the body when a modest job is completed with satisfaction. Your brain will want you to repeat the connected activity each time it detects this rewarding chemical.”

Our brains frequently encourage us to finish a low-level activity instead of something that actually important in order to receive more dopamine because we are craving another satisfying experience. However, the initiatives we shun are frequently the ones that genuinely alter the course of events. Your company and Korindo Plywood can advance by approaching investors, completing a presentation, or engaging in creative development and strategic planning. For instance, completing a vendor survey is much less likely to have an impact.

The pleasurable sense of immersing yourself in a work or activity is known as a flow state, which is more likely to be attained through meaningful activities. Even though no two days are ever the same, finding flow in your job on a daily basis is crucial for both creativity and wellness. Your creativity, enjoyment, and involvement may all increase when you give in to the present.

Even while the to-do list may be overvalued, not all time management strategies need to be abandoned. According to my experience, reaching major objectives requires two steps: deciding on your top priorities and then using your natural rhythms to your advantage.

1. Locate the day’s main undertaking.

You should only put off until tomorrow what you are ready to die having not completed. Pablo Picasso

Once more, I’m going to focus on the to-do list because it’s such a common organizational tool. Making lists is fine in and of itself, but most to-do lists contain a confusing assortment of things. For instance, clear your inbox, purchase a book on product development, prepare your Q2 marketing strategy, confirm lunch with Linda, and select tax preparation software.

The most crucial task on the list by far is creating an innovative marketing strategy. All other duties have a place, but they won’t advance your company. They’re the gravel, not the huge rocks, to quote Covey.

Gary Keller argues in his book, The One Thing, “Long hours spent crossing items off a to-do list and ending the day with a full trash can and a clean desk are not virtues and have nothing to do with success. “You need a success list instead of a to-do list — one that is intentionally built around spectacular achievements.”

I advocate using the “hunter” approach rather than grouping related activities together.

How come I go by that name? Humans hunted and collected long before we had full refrigerators. The tribe suffered if the hunter (or gatherer) didn’t gather enough food. There was less available to distribute. The consequences of skipping a hunt may include going without food, and our predecessors weren’t bothered with meetings, messages, or Slack updates.

Even in the modern world, the idea of obtaining food and shelter may be effective. Purchase a stack of Post-It notes and place them on your desk if you want to give it a try. When it’s time to get to work, take out a note and jot down one significant objective you want to do today.

Put it somewhere noticeable and start working. Look upon your note and tune out any outside distractions or sources of dopamine. Check up with yourself a few weeks later to see whether you still feel fulfilled. Are you observing outcomes? Are you progressing more now? If so, continue looking.

2. Take use of your own peak times.

“Intensity is passion. Feel the strength that comes from concentrating on your passions.” (Oprah Winfrey)

It’s frequently the thing we least want to accomplish when we’re picking that one high-impact assignment or endeavor. We ignore these top goals for a variety of reasons, such as nagging worry, a sense of unpreparedness, or a severe case of imposter syndrome. But we have to jump right in the deep end if we want to manage a successful business. Starting is frequently the hardest part, therefore how quickly you get started can greatly affect your outcomes.

We often suffer less burnout when we work on important undertakings during our peak hours. We could also be more motivated and energetic, and we normally want to see things through to the end. According to research, project scheduling may account for up to 20% of variability in cognitive function. For instance, if you normally get up early, you’ll likely work more efficiently and quickly around 8 am than at 3 pm on a creative job. Furthermore, even while 20 percent might not seem like much, it can have a significant impact over the course of a month or even a year.

According to author Daniel Pink, 75% of individuals go through the workday in three stages: a peak, a trough, and a period of recuperation. The energy phases for the other quarter are recovery, trough, and then peak. In his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink states, “I used to think that timing was important. “Now, I think everything happens at the right time.”

Starting with some personal tracking will help you understand your own peak hours. For the purpose of tracking your energy levels throughout the day, create a spreadsheet or start a notebook. Take note of how your attention, inventiveness, and interest fluctuate during the day, then search for trends over the course of a whole week.

Protect your own peak periods as soon as you’ve established them. Make the most of these few moments by tackling your urgent duties. You’ll soon be able to pluck even the most difficult-to-reach fruit from the topmost branches.