When clients ask me about productivity and time management, it’s often because they’re drowning in a sea of To Do lists – trying to figure out what to do first, wondering how they’re going to get it all done, and secretly fearing something important will end up slipping through the cracks.
I get it. Most of us have a million competing demands on our time – much more than we can accomplish in the 24 hours we have each day. We’re scrambling trying to get it all done.
But what I’ve come to realize is that often the things on our To Do lists are things put there by other people. They reflect other people’s priorities, not necessarily our own. As we diligently work through our To Do lists, we can get lots done but still feel as though we’re not making any real progress, other than the fleeting sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing a task off the list. Unless we put our own priorities on the To Do list, we’ll be like hamsters on wheels, running hard yet staying in place.
What we need is a shift in focus from being reactive to being proactive. We need to step back periodically from the To Do list (what I think of as a “bottom-up” approach) and consider the Big Picture (a “top-down” approach) – to develop a set of To Do’s that derive from our goals – in order to focus our efforts and move ourselves in the direction we want to go.