How To Effectively Tackle Your To-Do List + a DIY To Help Make It Less Painful

by Caitlin Kelch


Workflow. Project management. Time management. These are all terms that generally inspire eye rolls and guttural sounds from most folks in the workplace. But we all want to try to improve them however we can. However, when you’re trying to improve your productivity and check things off your long to-do list, it is SO easy to get overwhelmed by the number of tools, apps, books and philosophies around the subject of getting things done. I think it’s safe to say that finding a method that works for you is a huge project in and of itself.

But this quick DIY video (click Read More!) from our archives, created by the talented Kathleen Ballos, will, in fact, get you thinking in the right way about stuff done. It’s clever idea will help you get busy and enjoy it. But before we dive in to DIY, I’ve got some tips and ideas for training your brain to master some great work habits after the jump… –Caitlin


Before I share why this video will help you get things done, I’ve got two words for you that will become important for your success in this area of enhancing your productivity: 1) BRAIN and 2) HABIT. These are really the biggest two things getting in your way. Sure, the internet takes away precious time, and yes, focus does allow you to deep dive and accomplish, BUT before you slump into the deflated posture at your desk or lap top, you’ve got to come to terms with the fact that your brain has a mind of its own. You have allowed that brain to control you and ho you want to be, by thinking you created your habits under your own free will, when most of the time (and most of your habits) are actually what your brain has decided to do. You just passively hopped aboard the train.

My first piece of advice on the subject is get UNDERWHELMED. Like most things in life, our brains tend cling to how we perceived or felt about something previously. So – when you look at the file folder that contains a major pain-in-the-butt project, you feel the same ping in your stomach that you did when it first landed on your desk. Your brain is simply rehashing your initial experience. Your job is to change that ASAP.

My second piece of advice is simply adopt two tools that will help you change your habits by really narrowing your focus. It may feel wrong, because there are so many other things that need your attention, but I assure you, narrowing your focus is paramount. And it doesn’t happen overnight. But after a week’s worth of practice, you should be able to see a few good results as these two, new habits become routine. It’s generally true that ridding yourself of or try to change habits is painful. Whether you’re trying to quick smoking or simply trying to stick to accomplishing three things per day, you will experience major resistance from your brain, and most likely, your body too.

The two methods below are easy ways to create some new habits that your brain will actually appreciate because they honor and respect the way the grey matter works and work in tandem with the natural processes that are happening “upstairs” anyway.

As for WHY our DIY video will help you, I’ll share this: As you get used to the idea of making a real commitment to working in a different way, it’s a great (and brain convincing) process to attach a pleasant, yet productive activity that your brain will associate with a smile or color that makes you happy. If you watch our DIY video, chances are that you’ll find something in it or about it that will make you smile. The simple fact that you clicked play means you actually did something you wanted to do. You can apply that idea to anything. Furthermore, rest assured that somewhere in your brain, neurons fired in a good way as you watched a blob of clay get transformed into a colorful fridge decoration. Add in the words “TO DO” and you have a nice, happy recipe for goodness now associated with your painful list. A conscious part of yourself may have thought the video was silly or a waste of time, but another part of your brain was secretly ogling the moving images as your head bopped along to playful music that put you in light, kindergarten-inspired mood. It’s kind of similar to mediation (which we’ll also cover in a future post).

The two tools are: 1) kanban and 2) the pomodoro technique. Have you heard of either?  We’ll dive deeper into both of these methods next week if there’s enough interest in learning more about them in the comments. So…leave us a comment on your experience with these methods, other methods that work for you or “I WANT TO KNOW MORE PLEASE!”

In the meantime, if you want to start tackling your to-do list ASAP, watch the video, make the DIY in the next 3 days and create a monster master list that you’ll prioritize in order of importance. Then hang it on your fridge and try to complete at least two things on the list each day.

If you don’t complete them because something else on the list (or something new) interrupts your prioritization, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. Just get two things done per day. You’ll need the extra energy to fight off your brain’s creation of pesky inner-dialogue that says “Do more” and “Hurry up already.” Feel free to go so far as to write “I’m not worrying about it.” on a piece of paper and place it on top of your DIY magnet or just in a conspicuous spot.

I hope I hear from you in the comments section because I’m anxious to tell you more next week!





Suggested For You