Caroline Tison

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Do you need a reality check?

It seems, most often than not, that 24 hours is simply not enough to get it all done.  One thing is for sure, we cannot extend the day. It’s 24 hours long, not one minute more. So maybe we should look at what exactly we are trying to jam into these precious hours. Is your to-do list reasonable?

I have recently realized that my daily to-do list was anything but reasonable!  It used to contain 25 things to do in one day. Most of the time this included two meetings of two hours each and a two-hour lunch, including travel time.  And I often felt awful at the end of the day. I was going to bed thinking that I didn’t get it all done.

Looking back, I now realize that I got 15 things scratched off my daily to-do list (which is pretty amazing) but I felt like I was a failure because there were 10 things remaining on the list!

Does this ring a bell?  Well, you’re probably not the only one. A few days ago, I was visiting my friend. She was telling me how many things she had on her to-do list and how she felt like a failure at the end of the day because she couldn’t “get it all done.”  I couldn’t help but laugh because I could relate. I asked her to show me her to-do list. Yup. It was long and not reasonable at all – unless you live on a planet where they serve kryptonite for breakfast!

I will spare you all of the details that led me to seriously look at my approach to time management, but suffice it to say that I had to stop and make some big changes. I was in dire need of a reality check (What? You mean I am not wonder woman !?). I realized that my daily to-do list was indeed supernatural. I have been working really hard to properly prioritize and significantly reduce my daily to-do list.  I am more realistic about how many things I can accomplish in a given day, taking into account that there are meetings, outside lunches, travel time, unplanned emergencies… and, oh yeah, those 200 emails that come in daily. My list is probably half of what it was six months ago. Trust me; the day is still very busy and fully booked.  And yes, that overall running to-do list is still very long. But I go to bed with a greater sense of accomplishment because I managed to do what I set out to do that day. And my stress level has gone down. Significantly.

Now don’t go thinking that I am fully cured. I have relapses from time to time and I can use all the help I can get. So if you have developed some good tricks, big or small, in making the most of a day’s 24 hours, I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I would like to challenge you to make your daily to-do list – and try cutting it in half.

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