If you’re starting the day with a really long to do list, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with their productivity and having way too many tasks to complete in one day. Luckily, there is a way to complete as many tasks as possible without becoming incredibly overwhelmed. Here are some tips:

Turn Off Your Social Media

We’re the most interconnected generation imaginable. It’s hard to sit down and do a task on your computer when you’re constantly getting e-mails, notifications, or texts that tell you when other people are updating their Facebook or Instagram accounts.

The best way to remain focused to get through a long to do list is to turn off your social media accounts. Log out of everything or install a social media blocker on your computer in addition to putting your phone to “do not disturb.” This will help to eliminate distracts so that you can concentrate on your work.

If you’re like me, you’ll even notice yourself reaching for your phone or opening a tab to check your email or Facebook accounts only to find out that they are blocked. It’s a habit most of us have but don’t realize how bad it is until you block yourself from the outside world for a little while.

Start With the Hardest Task First

It’s tempting to start with small tasks to build momentum with  your to do list, but it’s actually better if you start with the most difficult task first. The reason is that many people put off their hardest task, which only builds in terms of worry and anxiety throughout the day. Get the most challenging one done, and all the rest of your tasks will seem easy.

Strategically Plan Breaks

I typically break up my day in two sections so I know what I want to get accomplished before lunch and after lunch. If noon is approaching, and I still have a lot left to do, I know I need to shift some things around in my afternoon schedule, whether it’s moving a meeting or putting off a less urgent task to give myself more time for the task I’m currently working on.

If you try to put too much on your plate, you start to get down on yourself when you aren’t checking off your to do list boxes, so strategically plan your day in sections and try to get your tasks done in an allotted time.

Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is probably the most important part of getting a to-do list done. After all, we’re no different than a 5 year old who gets dessert if he eats all of his vegetables. To keep you motivated throughout the day’s highs and lows, promise yourself something if you complete a specific number of tasks. It could be as simple as watching a quick Netflix show during your lunch break or heading out for a manicure when your work is all done.

Ultimately, my final piece of advice is to view a day with a long to do list as a challenge to yourself and not a burden. Using the tips above, you can get everything accomplished, one step at a time.



Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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