How to Successfully Tackle Your To-Do List in 2016
MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What’s your New Year’s resolution? is written by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Living in the moment can be a challenge for me. I’m usually busy assessing the past and planning for the future, mapping out a strategy, and making sure that my time is optimized. In fact, I currently belong to two groups of people that tend to take great pride in their ability to plan and multitask: chief executive officers and working moms.
Although these skills are important, when life becomes a constant barrage of activity juggling and box-checking, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. In fact, the more there is to do, the more important it becomes to stop the whirlwind at work and at home and try to enjoy–or at least acknowledge–the current moment. And that’s exactly what I plan to do more of in 2016.
In looking for opportunities to improve my ability to live more in the moment, I have first decided to tackle the never-ending “to-do” list. A well-managed to-do list can help you stay in control, but a poorly managed to-do list controls you. Admittedly, wrangling “the list” is no small feat when there are constant distractions and requests for time and attention from work and family. Therefore, my goal in the New Year is to actively eliminate, prioritize, or delegate tasks by asking a few simple questions:
Eliminate: Is this task critical to achieving my goals? What is the worst thing that could happen if this task is not done?
Prioritize: Will completing this task make a difference today, in a month, or a in a year? Put the task in the correct order of importance and timing.
Delegate: Is there someone else who should or could do this task? Give people a chance. Get it off your list.
In addition to making life a little less insane, managing the “to-do” list in order to live more in the moment has another big benefit: In a leadership position and as a mom, the myriad of things that you may be doing that seem critical are often not what is most needed nor wanted from you. Learning to be comfortable in, and even relish, the moment allows you to really listen, ask thoughtful questions, and say “thank you” or “good job” to the people in your life–which might be the single best thing you do all day, not just for them but for you. Oh, by the way, this requires you to stop emailing, texting, and checking messages for a little while. Don’t worry, they will still be there.
Okay, I acknowledge that I may need help in achieving my resolution given that I wrote this essay while on a conference call. But, I am hoping that my equally over-developed habit of being goal-oriented will outweigh my need to plan and multi-task in 2016. Remember, the “to-do” list will always be there, but the moment is gone forever.