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Time Estimating Your To-Do List

Many of us make to-do lists. Usually, they are long and filled with a variety of tasks. Not only is it essential to prioritize the list of items, but to also estimate how much time each task will take. Often when you do this, you find that you have two days worth of to-dos on your list. One thing that zaps our energy is feeling overwhelmed and getting distracted. When you have long to-do lists that are not even reasonable to accomplish, often much less gets done.

If you take your list, budget how much time important tasks will take, you can then plan them into your day better. If you have a 10-minute task, you can plan that for a 15 minute downtime period. If you don’t do this, people usually take 10 minutes just to figure out what they are going to do and then they only have 5 minutes left to do something, which is not enough time, so then nothing gets done (or they start a project and are stressed and then late for the next appointment).

It also helps you to plan your day to see that you need 2 hours of blocked time to “eat your frog” (the #1 most important item on your to-do list). This way you can plan your day to get that big thing off your plate. I guarantee when you get the weight of a large project off your back first thing in the morning, you will be supercharged and excited for the rest of your day. Then knowing what you will do, how long it will take you and “budgeting” when you will do it, creates a clear focus and drive for you to accomplish many more things in your day.

In order to put this into practice:

1. Take your prioritized list of to-dos and write behind each how much time each will take (always pad with extra time not less).

2. Look at your schedule for the day and plan when you will do which tasks. If you have a large task, see how you can break it down into parts that fit into your day.

3. Write specifically what you will do on the calendar (i.e. budget 1 hour to write a newsletter. Have a 15 minute opening in the AM; plan to write the intro to the newsletter, then schedule 30 minutes later in the day to write the main article. Finally, schedule 15 minutes in the afternoon to edit the newsletter).

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