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Make the most of your to-do list

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

To tackle your ever-expanding responsibilities, you create a to-do list. That’s a good start.

The real test of your productivity, however, involves how you use your list.

Many people start with the first item on the list, trying to work their way down. Yet as fires flare, it’s almost impossible to find time to do what you intended to do when the day began.

Here’s a better idea: Let your mind run wild and list all the things on your plate. Pause for a few minutes and then review the list, seeking to identify your top three priorities.

In deciding which three tasks you ought to address first, consider your internal motivation as well as the relative importance of each item. If you’re excited to do something, you’ll probably perform the task well. That’s all the more reason to dive right into it while your passion remains high.

Perfectionists, beware! If you hold yourself to an unrealistic standard of perfection, you can squander precious time.

It’s smarter to complete a task with your best effort, even if you suspect the final product is not perfect. Then move on to the next entry on your list.

To boost your odds of success, turn to peers and staffers for help. Delegate tasks or at least inform others that you want to concentrate on your top priority for the day. They’ll be less likely to derail you with trivial matters if you alert them in advance of your overriding need to focus.

— Adapted from “10 Ways The Best Leaders Reach Goals,” Joseph Folkman, www.forbes.com.

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