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Follow the 3-day rule on to-dos

by on
in Workplace Communication

Transferring to-dos into your calendar will help you make more stra­tegic choices about how to spend your time. And you’re more likely to get things done, once you’ve attached them to a particular time and date.

You’re also likely to end up with a handful of to-dos that don’t fit into your calendar.

What do you do with them? Use the three-day rule to ensure that nothing stays on your list for more than three days.

Do one of four things with any task that’s been on your list after three days:

1. Do it immediately. You’ll be amazed by how many of those lingering items take only a few minutes. If it’s as simple as leaving a two-minute voice mail message, do it now.

2. Schedule it. It may not fit into your calendar this week, but pick a date—even if it’s six months away—to commit to doing it on a specific day.

3. Let it go. Just delete it. If you’re not willing to schedule, it’s time to face reality: The to-do simply isn’t a must-do.

4. Add it to a someday/maybe list. You may never get around to doing things on this list, but that’s OK. You’ll sleep a little better knowing that you have somewhere to write down “maybe” tasks.

Tip: Keep a Waiting list. If you’ve sent someone an e-mail and are waiting to hear back, put it on the list. That way, you won’t lose track and can follow up if necessary.

— Adapted from “What To Do With Your To-Do List,” Peter Bregman, Harvard Business Review blog.

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