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A Simple Secret To Shrink Your To-Do List In Half

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough minutes in the day? It’s easy to feel bogged down with a never-ending list of work that needs to be done- we’ve all been there…

By Clair Kim, Principal Consultant @ Clairly Designed

Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough minutes in the day? It’s easy to feel bogged down with a never-ending list of work that needs to be done- we’ve all been there. But, what if I let you in on a little secret to optimize your to-do list and give you more time to do the things you love?

Use the 80/20 Rule

It’s called the Pareto Principle. To sum it up, an Italian philosopher noticed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden produced 80% of the peas. A little research proved this 80/20 concept to be true in many aspects of life. 80% of results come from only 20% of the actions taken.


Identify High Impact Vs. Low Impact Activities

There’s two types of actions, or activities: Low impact and high impact. Low impact activities make little progress. Think of these as like chipping away at a block of ice with an ice pick. They require a lot more time and effort to reach the goal.

High impact activities are the opposite. These activities get you directly to the end result you’re trying to achieve. Think of these as attacking a block of ice with a chainsaw- it’s faster, more effective, and ultimately saves you time and energy so you can move on to the next task.

Easily See Your Priorities

Now, pair this 80/20 theory with a variation of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix and you’ve unlocked the key to success.

Here’s three simple steps to get this done:

– Step 1: Divide a piece of paper into four quadrants, (2 columns + rows) 

– Step 2: Label the quadrants. On the upper left column, put “Urgent”. On the upper right column, put “Not Urgent”. On top row, put “Steps Needed”. And on bottom row, put “Intended Outcome”

– Step 3: List the tasks you need to get done either in the “Urgent” or “Not Urgent” square. Then, list the outcome you’d like to see in the “Intended Outcome” square below these tasks. Lastly, fill in the steps you need to take in the “Steps Needed” square.

Now you can easily see which tasks need to be prioritized and how much effort it will take to complete each task. If a task takes more steps to complete, consider that a low impact activity. It’s going to take you more time and effort to get it done.

The tasks that only require one step to complete are your high impact activities. They can be completed quickly and help you check off your to-do list in the most efficient way possible.

Using these tools is a great way to not only organize your priorities but also identify your strengths and weaknesses. Now you’ll be ready to take on anything thrown your way!