When it comes to getting things done you may think that the more, the merrier. Not so! In fact, after about 10 items, you start to decrease in productivity. The overall number of things to do actually discourages you, and you fall into the trap of , “I’m never going to get it all done, so why bother?” mindset.
What happens then is that you end up in a state of overwhelm, tackling the small, easy tasks (instead of the important things), or just giving up on it altogether. Instead of making progress, working towards your goals, instead you’re flying by the seat of your pants and handling whatever catches your attention. Not a good way to get er done!
The solution: Limit the number of items on your list. Big time getting results expert like the late cosmetics queen Mary Kay Ash recommends keeping the number of items on your list to about six. In speeches and her writings, Mary Kay credits much of her success to the “six most important things” list she would create each night before bead.
You might have six pages of things to do. How do you cut those down to a manageable number? The key is to filter it down to the most important items to be accomplished in the next day or so. Remember, if you get it all done, you can always starting working on something different!
If you worry, you’ll forget the other, less important items, create a separate project list that is kept in a different location, in a different notebook or on a computer file, or even on the whiteboard in your office. A lot of times this is called the parking lot. Here you can “park” all those other ideas, projects, and tasks until it’s time to tackle them. By moving them off your main list and out of your mind, you’ll limit your scope to the critical actions and keep your focus where it matters: On your biggest goals.
It can also be useful to create a running list of “Five-Minute Tasks” that you can turn to when you have downtime between the larger items. Need a breather after you finish writing a 10-page report? Pull out your Five-Minute Task list and make a phone call or two, or order your son’s birthday present from Amazon. Then go right back to your big list and start cranking away at your next major goal.
Just a week or two of using this method will show you how you actually can accomplish MORE by focusing on LESS. Try it out, if it doesn’t help, you can always go back to your old way of trying to do it all at once. I think you’ll find it was worth the try.