Must, Should, Would: 7 Ways to Conquer Your To Do List

When I take a few days off, like for Thanksgiving and company, I sometimes have a difficult time getting back to my productive routine.

I can find all kinds of things that need to be done--things I usually am not eager to do--to avoid getting back into the office.

7 Ways to Conquer Your To Do List

1. Make a list of everything that needs to be done on the Monday that follows a long holiday weekend. Put the must do, should do, and would do —if only you had the time —on the list.

2. Go through the list and segregate all of the must do items. Do the same for the should do and would do.

3. Look at each of those 3 groups then begin to prioritize each group according to the first must do  item that needs to be done asap. Do this for each of the items in the 3 groups.

4. Assign a day to work on each group with the must do items first. Since Time doesn't stand still, things that need to be handled will keep coming at you with many being must do so always make those a priority.

5. When you have your must do list manageable, begin to add a couple of should do items each day.

6. That leaves the would do. With these, ask yourself, do they really need to be done? Also ask, could these be delegated to someone else?

7. The final tip is for those who find it hard to take action even after analyzing all the things on the To Do list.

Use what I call my On/Off Technique. Set an alarm on your phone or on the kitchen stove. Start with 20 minutes. Take the #1 must do item and work on it until the alarm goes off.

Reset the alarm for 20 minutes then do something else —something fun, distracting, or whatever strikes your fancy.

When the distracting alarm goes off, stop doing that. Reset the alarm for 25 minutes this time. Go back to the must do you were working on and dive in. When the 25 minute alarm goes off, reset your alarm for 15 minutes this time.

That's right. As you work through the day, increase the work alarm by 5 minutes every time and decrease the distraction alarm by 5 minutes.

More than likely, you'll automatically keep working on the must do side of the equation with no need for a distraction alarm long before your distraction time is down to zero.

Takeaway Truth

When to start this? There's no time like the present. Take action now!


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  1. Great advice, Joan. Much needed at this time of the year. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hey, Judythe. Nice to see you. Thanks for commenting.