A set of simple instructions on how to effectively use a to-do list to avoid becoming stressed at the office.

It may surprise you but the main reason why we get stressed isn’t that we have “too much to do”. For most of us, having too much to do is perfectly fine as long as we know what our priorities are and if we can have a good overview of our work. Instead, the plague of modern office life is that we have too MANY things to do and that we lose track of it all.

Discover an easy and effective way of managing your work. These simple techniques have been proven time and time again. In essence, the simple secret lies in taking charge of your time.

1. Write it down! I never cease to be amazed by how often stressed-out people try to keep all the things they have to do in their heads. Stress is often more about knowing that we have a lot to do but not being able to remember exactly what.

2. Write it ALL down! In order for you to have a to-do list that you can rely on, you must trust that it contains ALL the things you have to do. Otherwise, you will still have a nagging feeling that you may not be focusing on the right things.

3. Channel interruptions to your to-do list. Interruptions are a part of life so don’t let them stress you. 95% of all interruptions are either very quick so that you can deal with them straight away or something that you can defer to a time when YOU decide.

4. Don’t let your email inbox become your to-do list. Receiving emails can be great fun. Unfortunately, it is also very easy to confuse your inbox with your to-do list. Try to only scan your email inbox once every hour or two

(If you lack the discipline, you can set your email client to do this).

5. You don’t have to do anything! If I had to choose one single reason why people fail with their to-do lists it would have to be that they lack the ability to strike things off it. Things change and so should your to-do list. If you are uncomfortable with deleting tasks, create a “storage” list and move it to that.

6. The Nibble. Let’s face it, some tasks are big, vague, and truly and utterly boring. We end up postponing these tasks forever and as a result, they never leave our to-do list. Eventually, our list is filled with these types of tasks and finally we decide not to look at the depressing thing. The trick is “The Bible”. Break the task down into smaller components. Make sure that the first step takes less than 5 minutes to do. Then take that first step.

7. Not my time of day – Listen to your own rhythm. Let’s face it. Were human, not machines. At times, we are productive and at times we are not. I see it as a surfer who times the waves and then rides them to their fullest. Try to find a task management system that lets you monitor your own “waves”. You will probably find that you know less about yourself than you think you do.

8. Play! Why oh why do all planners and task managers have to look so professional and at the end of the day, so very very boring? Make your work into a game. Set small targets and reward yourself.

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