Most of us suck at managing our time.
And here is the biggest mistake we make — we try really hard to finish our to-do list. When that does not happen, we get frustrated and blame ourselves for being lazy.
In fact, we feel absolutely certain that there is some hack out there that can help us finish our to-do list — we somehow just need to find it. That is when we fall for time-management gurus.
Here is the reality — there is likely nothing you are doing wrong. The to-dos don’t end because it is human nature to want to do everything possible.
Instead of trying to squeeze in everything, here is an alternative:
1. Figure out one top priority for the day — something that will move the needle.
2. Work on it without distraction for at least 45-50 minutes. During this time, silence all the noise and interruptions — you know how to do that. I often use a timer (my favorite is ‘Be focused’ chrome extension).
3. When that task or a big chunk of it is done, take a break and pick another task.
4. Don’t aim for more than 4-5 hrs of focused work a day — that is kind of the upper limit. In fact, even 2 hrs of focus can be game-changing.
5. You can spend the rest of the day doing emails and other shallow work.
Your goal should not be to finish the to-do list but do a few things that swing the needle.
To be sure, there are excellent productivity frameworks (like David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”). But nothing will get you to finish your to-do list magically.
Life is about prioritization, not doing the impossible.