Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
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The Art of the To-Do List
Posted in Time Management by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Oct 07, 2013
Do you keep a to-do list? If not, maybe you should. Most people have a system or way of getting things done but if you find yourself constantly playing catch up then maybe it is time to rethink your process. To-do lists are only effective when created and executed properly.

Daily action items should be considered small goals and like any goal setting process you need to break it down into manageable parts. Some people have found that any more than 3 items per day can be overwhelming and may cause you to feel defeated before even getting started. It is like standing at the base of a very tall mountain you are about to climb and deciding it is just too steep. I think that number can be adjusted for those who feel motivated but I often caution my clients who struggle with depression or anxiety to keep that list small.

When you are making your list, be very specific and detailed about the actions. For instance, instead of writing down, “look for a job” you might list the specific sources you will access such as names of agencies, papers you will read, or people you will call. Make your task an action that can actually be completed in a day (finding a job is the long term goal that may take weeks or months.) It sounds simple but the reality is that the more specific you are, the more likely you are to actually accomplish the task and feel good about it, despite the outcome.

It is a commonly known fact among clinicians that the very act of writing down one’s to-do items brings with it a sense of accomplishment, as if step 1 has been completed. If you find that you have a paper full of must do items then prioritize and limit your daily number. Put the other items out of sight so they don’t bog you down or make that mountain feel higher. Once you have completed a task, cross it off your list or better yet, make a new and smaller list.

So much of life is filled with needing to get things done and so often people get mired in the minutia and start to feel buried. To-do lists can help you to start to dig yourself out; one task at a time, and the accomplishment of simple tasks can actually boost self-esteem and improve your quality of life.

- Cyndi

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I have to do list in my table everyday and it serve as guidance on the things that I have to accomplish on that day.
By handymanlondon  Oct 11, 2013
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