5 Ways to Make a Huge Task List Doable


I’m about a third of the way towards my 40th birthday deadline which I set myself in my 40 Things For 40 Years Challenge. I’ve completed a few of the easier things, such as buying a beautiful dining table, and growing my own herbs and seeds in pots on our verandah.

A couple more challenges are underway, like going to monthly confession, and planning for the mothers’ retreat I’ll be hosting in August.

There is still quite a lot to do though, and looking over the list today I counted 26 items I haven’t begun including some big ones that require a greater investment of time and/or money. Yikes!

Time is  the biggest issue. My writing and editing work has stepped up a notch and I’ve taken on a volunteer role at my daughter’s school, so I’ve got a lot less disposable time in general.

But as an inveterate list-maker I’ve gained some valuable experience in making my to-do lists doable rather than daunting. Here are some things I’m doing so that I can have everything neatly crossed off by the time I blow out my candles again.

  •  Group items together. There are some things I can naturally group together and  knock off in one hit, such as spending a weekend with my eldest daughter and visiting the observatory to look at the stars. Ditto with catching up with friends and hosting a fancy dinner party. I’m generally not a fan of multitasking, but in these cases it will work!
  • Add in some accountability. I’ve just been invited to join a small writers’ group being set up for mutual support and encouragement. That should help me get my children’s book idea out of my head and into draft form at least.
  • Revise and re-think my goals. Enough time has passed for me to see which of the goals I wrote down in October I still really care about. Trying a pilates class is something I really don’t care to prioritise at the moment. I’ve been given a handful of core-strengthening exercises by a friend which are quick and easy to do at home. I also am not really sure why I wanted to write a letter to Bono or Pope Francis. I don’t feel any guilt about tweaking those things – replacing pilates with three times a week exercise, and starting a new habit of writing handwritten notes and letters to friends and family instead of writing to Bono (what was I thinking?).
  • Delete an item or two (or more). It’s amazing, how often, after revising a too-long long task list, there are one or two things we really don’t need to do in the time frame we’ve given it, or we don’t have to do ever.
  • Delegate. I’ll probably delegate the blog upgrade, trampoline purchase and set-up, and organising some of the social events.

After doing all of these my remaining 26 items drops down to 19 while I should still end up with 40 great things accomplished. That’s better!

I actually use long to-do lists very rarely these days.What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by a task list?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Marc says:

    I cannot disagree with anything you suggest. I try to group my stuff according to the Eisenhower method. Four quadrants:
    -important and urgent
    -not important but urgent
    -important but not urgent
    -not important not urgent.

    But I will also say that there are fewer things more satisfying than scratching stuff off of a list! 🙂


    1. Thanks for reminding me Marc, I like that method too.


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