One of the most important things you can do when managing your to-do list is to keep your list short.
To achieve this, you should never allow your to-do list to exceed three items.
This is not to say that you only have three tasks to complete that day, or that you shouldn't complete more than that. Most days our to-dos far exceed three.
But the key here is to only allow three tasks on your to-do list at any given time.
As tempting as it may be to compile elaborate and comprehensive lists encompassing everything under the sun, that is not being productive.
When have you ever successfully completed a to-do list of that magnitude? For most of us, the answer is never.
In reality, elaborate to-do lists are nothing more than aspirational.
By contrast, we challenge you to instead make a to-do list that is actionable.
So to make an actionable to-do list, write down three items – and only three items.
Start with the high-priority items: the "must-dos" rather than the "would-be-nices". That ensures the most critical items are out of the way early. And by keeping the list short, you make it much more approachable.
Once you complete those three tasks, give yourself a pat on the back. You've just scored a victory. That's something to feel good about.
Now use the momentum of your victory to come up with three more items. Then rinse and repeat.
You'll find that breaking your to-do list up into these bite-sized chunks is a much more rewarding and psychologically manageable way to approach the various things you need to get done in a day.
Another trick with managing your to-dos is to start with what you least want to do.
Find the task that you're most dreading and get it out of the way at the start of your day
And if you don't know what task you're most dreading, it's the one you've been avoiding all morning, all day, maybe even all week. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. Now's the time to confront it.
There's a tremendously gratifying sense of accomplishment in completing these onerous tasks. And by knocking it out first, you free up a ton of cognitive space for focusing on all the other things you need to get done.
For maximum effect, combine the two strategies we just discussed.
Shorter to-do lists that front-load the hardest tasks are a surefire way to boost productivity and beat procrastination.