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How To Control That ‘To-Do’ List Once and For All by @SoBeOrganized

by Rivka Caroline | Featured Contributor

Initially it was a little tricky when I was asked by NYT’s Motherlode  to give just one nugget of advice for a New Years Resolution piece. After speaking with friends and clients throughout the year and hearing how their ‘to-do’ lists weighed them down, there was really only one winner :  As frustrating as it is, there just isn’t time for everything. Every “to-don’t” makes room for a “to-do.” Here are the 3 vital steps for finally controlling that ‘to-do’ list one and for all.

1) Cultivate That ‘To-Don’t’ List

Raising my own 7 children gave me plenty of reasons to have a ‘to-do’ list the length of my minivan but it was only when I read Tim Ferriss’s masterpiece ‘The Four Hour Workweek’ that  I first heard about a ‘to-don’t’ list and oh did the concept resonate with me.

From my standpoint, ‘to-do’ lists have become as overwhelming as the clutter in our coat closet. We keep on taking more ‘stuff’ into our homes and more ‘to-do’s’ into our lives. More responsibilities, more volunteer work, more, more, more … which of course as we know from any respectable pile of clutter does a wonderful job of hiding that one piece of paper we really do need. By taking on more and more and more responsibility it becomes more challenging to discern which ‘to-do’s’ are the vital ones for your personal world and which ones can be done by someone else.

2) Stop being busy and start being effective

I hate to break it to you but busy people aren’t always the most effective. If we are busy with the wrong things then we aren’t being effective, we are just running around trying to keep up with our own busy minds.

It is up to each of us to decide what our priorities are for the upcoming month or two ( or more if you like to plan ahead). Then once we have defined our priorities making our ‘to don’t’ list is so much easier. If I have committed to go to a gym every morning from 9-10am then I wont be able to say yes to the opportunity to go out with a friend for coffee at that exact same time. However, if I have changed my morning schedule to work out from 9-10am and then work for 4 hours until 2pm then I have open afternoons for relaxation and friendship then that coffee date fits in perfectly in the afternoon slot right before carpool.

3) Stick to your guns

If I have recently begun to take one child a week out to dinner on  a rotation basis on Tuesday evenings, then I can’t go to a book signing on the very same evening. It sounds logical when you are reading about it, but it is much more tricky when you have to be the one to stand up for your own agenda. Defining your priorities and then giving them time slots is your way of managing the best you that you can be. Keeping healthy boundaries by respecting the goals you have created is a wonderful exercise in reinforcing the priorities that mean the most to you. The idea of having less ‘to-do’s’  isn’t to turn you into a heartless robot but to have a clear sense of what your priorities are so that you don’t get lost along the way.


Time Management Guru – Rivka Caroline, author of Frazzled to Focused Ultimate Time Management Guide  for Moms & CEO of SoBe Organized, Miami, FL

RivkaRivka is a Mom of 7, Author of Frazzled to Focused, Rabbi’s wife and CEO of the professional Time Management Consultancy SoBe Organized.   She teaches both individuals and small businesses how to leverage their time to work effectively and find time for the things that count.  She loves the psychology behind time management and will be finishing her Masters in Psychology in  October 2013.  Perhaps more importantly, Rivka is still quite relaxed and surprisingly sane and able to find time for what matters. People often ask her how she ‘does it all’, her tweets @sobeorganizedblog posts and book is her detailed response ( spoiler alert : she doesn’t actually do it all and doesn’t want YOU to either).

2 Replies to “How To Control That ‘To-Do’ List Once and For All by @SoBeOrganized”

  1. Michelle

    I love the idea of a “to-don’t” list! I’m still trying to figure out how to organize and prioritize everything. Stopping in from Triberr. Thanks for the inspiration for a “to-don’t” list!

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