Make Your To-Do List a Ta-Da List

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If you’re a procrastinator like I am, you might find To-Do lists pretty annoying. I mean, they stare at you just daring you to cross one off just one item. And you stare back like, yeah, I’ve got all day to complete that list. I’m good at what I do. I’m quicker than most people, so I’ve got plenty of time.

Plus, there’s all this other cool stuff I could be doing that I’ll never remember to do if stick to my list, and then those ideas will be gone forever. So, it makes perfect sense that so many of us procrastinate on tasks we have to complete on any given day. We’re optimistic, we’re creative, we’re damn smart. We’ve got this handled.

Except that many days, we don’t.

Though we are damn smart and super creative, we’re overly optimistic and we lose track of time. And before we know it, we have found that we have not completed our To-Do list. Ugh.

So what can we do about it?

Well, before we get into the strategies and tactics, we need to understand that there are different kinds of procrastinators. In fact, there are four types. See if you are one of the following: the Performer, the Self-Deprecator, the Overbooker, the Novelty Seeker.

The Performer says: “I work best under pressure.”

These procrastinators actually create the problem they’ve just stated. They tend to be perfectionists, waiting for just the right time, having enough data, being in the right mood. This squeezes everything into a smaller time space.

The challenge is: Getting Started.

The solution is: Instead of setting a due date, set a start date for tasks projects, and goals. Once you get started, you’ll not find yourself in crunch time so much.

The Self-Deprecator says: “I’m so lazy right now.”

This procrastinator is not lazy at all. They tend to be worn out from doing so much and when they find themselves with not a lot to do, they see themselves as lazy or lethargic.

The challenge: Taking a break.

The solution: Relax and recharge. Go for a walk to get your mind off of your projects for a bit. Take a few minutes of downtime to simply let things go, gain a new perspective, and get back at it.

The Overbooker says: “I’m so busy.”

These procrastinators love to fill up their calendars. When the book is full, they feel validated.

The challenge: Addressing important or urgent situations.

The solution: Take a moment for introspection. Ask yourself, “What am I really avoiding?” “What do I really want to achieve?” “What is my true purpose or passion?”

The Novelty Seeker says: “I just had the best idea!”

This procrastinator is victim to shiny object syndrome. They constantly seek new ideas, start new projects, but soon get bored of them and fall behind or just abandon the task altogether.

The challenge: Completing things.

The solution: Write stuff down. When a new idea strikes, jot it down on a sticky note or a notebook. The trick here is to satisfy your brain by capturing you great idea on paper, but not acting on it until you’ve finished your current task.

So, figure out which procrastinator you are and try to follow the guidance provided. It won’t be easy, but it can be effective in keeping on track and in progressive motion.

No matter which procrastinator you are, there is a tactic that works for everyone, and that   is to create a To-Do list and then a Ta-Da list.

I know, it sounds silly, but hear me out.

Each time we create a To-Do list, we set up a plan to be successful that day. That is an excellent idea. Keep doing that.

The problem is that we may struggle to complete the To-Do list, and that hurts.

But there is a way to get a sustaining win from your efforts.

Let’s say you have four things on your To-Do list. Empty your email inbox, finish the report you are working on, follow up with a potential client, and start a new strategy plan.

Three of these seem pretty important, but which one will you start on?

You could “eat that frog” and do the one you least want to do, making the rest of the day much more appealing.

You could do the one that gets completed quickest, ensuring you get at least one thing checked off the list.

You could do the one that will have long-lasting effects on your business or career.

It’s totally up to you to decide which one drives your energy in to high gear. We’re all a bit different and we all have different priorities, so anything you choose is good for you.

Do that! And check that item off with a big, fat slash, or a check mark if that’s more your style.

Sometimes, we don’t get the full feel of satisfaction from checking things off a list. We need some new action to make it all feel worthwhile.

As procrastinators, we tend to beat ourselves up for missing deadlines or being “lazy,” or not having time to work on the critical parts of life, or just frittering away time because the deadline is not until tomorrow. And quite frankly, none of these serve us well.

And because we are procrastinators, we might need a little more feedback or recognition for our efforts.

It’s a wonderful feeling to look back at all the stuff we’ve done. I mean, people collect trophies, certificates, ribbons, and medals all the time.

But often we just let those feelings fade from our memory much like those To-Do lists we crumble and let fall into the trash.

So before you throw away your most recent To-Do list, here’s the new action: Take the top one or two accomplishments from your To-Do list and write them down on a Ta-Da list. That’s right, a Ta-Da list, because that is like a trophy of accomplishment or a certificate of completion. That makes for some lasting, feel-good vibes.

This behavior goes beyond the dopamine rush of checking off an item. It provides a lasting, empowering visual of every important task, project, and goal you’ve worked so hard for.

Take the time to appreciate all the effort you put in each day. Keep a log of all the great, and even the small, things you get done. And remember to review your Ta-Da list when you feel you might be procrastinating or if you’re just feeling a bit down on yourself. It will give you a boost seeing all you’ve accomplished recently and encourage you to focus on and prioritize the important things in your life to keep that list growing with more amazing achievements.

So which procrastinator are you? How will you overcome your challenges? And how will you show yourself a little appreciation for the effort you put in each day?

Your Mindful Moment:

Completing the goal is satisfying. Reviewing your success is gratifying.

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