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Three accessible ways to avoid being overwhelmed by TO DO lists

Whether you like it or not, you’re going to run up against a TO DO list that’ll resemble a mental version of the Great Wall of China, or some other overwhelming barrier. Fear not, with most obstacles there are numerous ways to overcome them. And with human-made obstacles, like ones found on a TO DO list, those ways are not so out of our reach.

What man createth, man deconstructeth…


Though people will find varying degrees of success in this, mentally compartmentalizing your list will shave off some of the stresses related to completing a daunting TO DO list. Imagine having to clean a messy room without first putting items in groups, and from those groups finding order and organization. It wouldn’t surprise me if you just left the room as is to pursuit some other more wieldy task. Stop, breath, and slowly (if you must) put list items in compartments –which leads me to my next point…


I’d argue that a solid grasp of prioritizing can make compartmentalizing a much easier endeavor. When starting to prioritize, I take careful consideration to some criteria.

  1. Deadlines – The sooner the deadline, the more effort I put into completing the simplest tasks leading to the more complicated ones.

  2. Cause and Effect – Which tasks will create the most efficient ripple on the overall task/project at hand?

  3. Travel – This might seem like a no-brainer, but when considering task completion I have to be mindful of the amount of time it’ll take to travel between items. I’m currently bound to the whims of public transportation so figuring the best way to kill two (or five) birds with one stone is an important skill.


Reward yourself for completing a task. One of life’s simple pleasures come in the form of a strike-through item on your TO DO list. If you’re being mindful of the two practices noted above, these updates should be happening more often than not. In fact, by the time you read this blog entry, I would have triumphantly crossed an item off of my “TO BLOG” list. And I can honestly say it would not have been possible if I didn’t develop habits that incorporated a combination of Compartmentalizing and Prioritizing.

These techniques aren’t foolproof and you might find yourself swimming in a TO DO list that could choke an elephant. But don’t worry, there are plenty of other productivity techniques that can assist you on your strike-through crusade. Consider reading/looking into these options:

WunderList (free web/mobile app) – Pomodoro Technique – Workflowly – 10 Minutes –

Take some time to share how you manage your time and find productivity in your various day to day activities; Let’s discuss it, use the comment form below. Or you can tweet me over at Follow @tasialabastro

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