Recently, I read a book that inspired me to declutter my home with a whole new perspective and vigor. Something just hit me right. It was methodical and practical. I tore through my house like a tornado and finally felt what all these decluttering books promise – relief, calm, mental space. Suddenly, I wondered, could I find this same magic in something that doesn’t take up physical space but takes up quite a bit of mental space?
My task list had become, admittedly, a bit overrun. A landing place for “I need to”s, “I should”s, and “One day I want to”s, my task list was a never-ending list of things that need action – if not now, then eventually. I did a great job of setting priorities and realistic deadlines. However, I had fallen into the trap of rescheduling deadlines for items that didn’t get finished without considering if that item still needed to get done. Seriously, one of my tasks had been rescheduled for six months… at that point, do I still need or want to do that?
This specific task came to mind when I considered decluttering my task list. This task took up mental space, dragging along with it the guilt and shame of rescheduling such a simple thing for months and months. For the first time, I took a step back and considered it in a different light.
Decluttering your task list is a quick process that can bring you immediate relief. Below are my tips for getting through it.
Create a Repository for Ideas
My task list was really bogged down with ideas that I had no plan for. I wasn’t even sure I still wanted to do some of them anymore. I created an easy-to-find document that I could move those ideas to and clear them off my working task list. There were even ideas I ditched entirely because they didn’t align with my business direction anymore. And anything that remained was moved into the pipeline to develop a plan and assign a due date. Ask yourself: is this an idea I’m still interested in?
Release Unfinished Projects
Often we start projects and then ghost them for some reason or another – get distracted, fall down the list of priorities, lose motivation. Then those projects stay on the list staring us in the face with their “why didn’t you finish me” judgemental eyes. With these projects, consider whether or not they are still necessary to your business. If it is, give it a realistic deadline. If not, archive it and release yourself from the unfinished guilt. Ask yourself: is this project still in alignment with my goals?
Delete the Unnecessaries
The unnecessaries – things we feel like we should be doing but aren’t impacting any other work and aren’t high priority. For instance, I had a task to set up a service account with a company so that it was there “just in case” I needed it. I hadn’t even had a use case yet – I just thought I might one day need it, so I wanted to set it up. Yet, I didn’t. And I pushed it out and pushed it out. Clearly, it wasn’t critical for me to set up this account, so I finally just deleted it. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. A lot of us have these tasks sitting on our lists. Things that seemed super important when we put it on the list but never actually get around to. Ask yourself: is this task necessary?
Once I went through this process, my task list was leaner, easier to manage, and felt more purposeful. I encourage you to do this to clean house and then revisit at least once a year to ensure you’re keeping your list focused on your current goals.
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