How to Get Things Done Without Stress

Three Methods:Tackling Your To-Do'sScheduling and PrioritizingLetting Go of the Unimportant Stuff

It is possible to get things done without too much stress. Of course, there are hurdles to be overcome. We often have so much on our minds that it is difficult to figure out where to start. There is also the challenge of switching between different kinds of activities. We need to drive to get some things done, and work on the computer to get other things done.[1] Often, the to do list can become too long and arduous.[2] To address such challenges, one should clear the mind and let go of unimportant things.[3]

Method 1
Tackling Your To-Do's

  1. Image titled Get Things Done Without Stress Step 1
    Do a five minute brain download. Write down all the things that you need to do. This will help relieve some anxiety. Rather than having to rehearse the things we need to do in the back of our mind, we can look at them on paper. We can begin to trust the process of making a to do list, instead of bottling up our anxiety about what needs to get done.[4]
    • Circle the things that look especially important and make a plan for them. [5]
    • Separate out the things that seem less important. Don’t worry about these things for now.[6]
  2. Image titled Get Things Done Without Stress Step 2
    Capture your daily thoughts. Use a notebook or your phone to record your daily thoughts about what you need to get done. [7] Using the thoughts you have written down, make a to do list.
    • You can use a voice recorder on your phone to record thoughts. For instance, record thoughts while waiting between meetings or at the subway station. It can be relaxing to work on your to do list during these in between times.
  3. 3
    Make a list every morning. At breakfast, write down your to do list and think about how you will tackle it.[8] Which things on your to do list are urgent, and which items can wait? Rank your to do list by level of importance. If you feel overwhelmed by your list, take a deep breath and relax.
    • Try underlining just a few of most important things on your to do list.[9]
  4. 4
    Focus on your to do list for today. If you have a master list of all the things you need to do, pull out only those things that you need to do today. [10] It is helpful to focus on 1-3 of your most important tasks. [11] Try to focus on the most important things early in the day. If you leave the most important tasks till late in the day, you may not have time. You will feel better if you get the big stuff done early.[12]
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    Organize your to do list by activity. If you need to do some things in the car, list all those things under one category. If you have a bunch of things to do on your computer, you can make a category called computer work. This way you can save time by getting similar things done all at once. [13]
    • If you have a bunch of work that is waiting on someone else, you can have a category called waiting. When things on this list become active again, you can move them back onto your regular to do list.[14]
  6. 6
    Do the things on your list. Relax, take a deep breath, and do the things on your list. Prioritize the activities as you move down your list. Try to follow the rankings you have created and do things by type of activity.[15]
    • For instance, start with all of your chores that involve driving. Circle those things on your list, and complete them.
  7. 7
    Avoid multitasking. Trying to work fast while multitasking actually leads to weaker productivity.[16] You will just get distracted by all the shifts between tasks. [17]
  8. 8
    Create a sealed off work zone. Switch off your phone, log out of email for a period, and focus on the work in front of you. By avoiding interruptions, you will be able to focus and get things done.[18]

Method 2
Scheduling and Prioritizing

  1. 1
    Invest in a good day planner. You should buy a day planner that meets your needs. This could be an application or a pen and paper day planner.[19]
    • There is something special about an old school, pen and paper planner. Check out the new styles for this season.[20]
    • Scheduling applications like iCal offer the ease of integrating your meetings across devices.[21]
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    Use the reverse calendar method. Figure out the final date for your project. Then, decide the optimal date for finishing the project. The optimal date should include some extra time ahead of the final date. Schedule tasks so that you can reach your optimal date. If you reach your optimal date, you can relax and do something you enjoy. For instance, you might give yourself time to read a new novel or take a small vacation.[22]
  3. 3
    Schedule blocks of time for the most important tasks. If you have a difficult task, make sure you give yourself a block of time each week to work on it. [23] It helps to limit these blocks of time, so that there is a sense of urgency. [24]
    • If you have an important job, try giving yourself one day to get it done. Imagine you are going on vacation the next day, and do everything you can to get it done. Don’t worry about being perfect. Delegate what you cannot do yourself. [25]
  4. 4
    Do small tasks at once. If you have something on your list that will take less than two minutes, just do it.[26]
    • Avoid focusing excessively on getting the small things done. If you are just focused on clearing your email inbox, you may forget to tackle the big jobs. Although it is helpful to get the little things out of the way, don't forget to make time for your big jobs.[27]
  5. 5
    Wake up early and get stuff done! If you need more time to get things done, try waking up a bit earlier every day.[28] Listen to the early morning bird calls, and ease into your work day.
  6. 6
    Finish the week with a tidy Friday. Review your to do list and finish the things you never got done earlier in the week. Friday afternoon is a good time to send emails you never sent, and clean up your desk.[29]

Method 3
Letting Go of the Unimportant Stuff

  1. 1
    Be realistic about your time. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to fit a twelve hour work day into eight hours. Instead, rank the most important things you need to get done in your day and let go of the rest.[30]#Limit your to do list. If your list expands beyond your three most important tasks for the day, try to cut it down.[31]
  2. 2
    Figure out what is less important on your list. Make sure you note what is less important on your to do list and focus on it less.[32] If there are a number of items ranked low, save these tasks for a time that is less busy.
  3. 3
    Delegate work to others in your workplace. By delegating work, you will have more time to focus on your most important tasks.[33] You should focus on doing the work only you can perform. Delegate work that you know others can perform faster.
    • For instance, if you are not a computer person, you might want to delegate social media work.[34]
    • Delegate responsibility alongside the task itself. Give your employee the responsibility they need to get the job done effectively.[35]
    • Give praise for a job well done. If they do the job well, you should give public praise.[36]
    • Choose the right person for the job, rather than the person with the most time. Remember to delegate work to those who are the best fit. This means hiring the right people for the job.[37]
  4. 4
    Make a won’t do list. This list should include all the things that you know are not important or are distracting. By including these things on a list, you will remember to not get distracted by them.[38]

Sources and Citations

  • Wired Magazine - Original source of this article. Shared with permission.
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Article Info

Categories: Creating Life Balance | Managing Stress