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To-Do List Wisdom from Mindy Kaling

It’s graduation season, which leads to plenty of people thinking about their long-term goals, not just college students. Often when we reminisce on the goals we had at graduation we focus on all the things we haven’t done.

But are we being too hard on ourselves?

Mindy Kaling thinks so!

When speaking at the graduation ceremony at Dartmouth College Mindy’s final advice to the graduating class was to “let it go.”

We may have a dozen goals in our head when we graduate and some of them may happen and some might not. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or strayed from your path, just that life often doesn’t go the way you planned.

In previous posts I’ve talked of the importance of evaluating your long-term goals. It’s okay to accept that a goal might no longer be what you want or that you need to put it on the back burner while you focus on more important things. A perfect example of this is a woman I interviewed, author Karen Rizzo, she continually put “Learn Italian” on her list and guess what – never happened.

When evaluating long-term goals there are a few things to take into consideration:

Priorities – What we think is a top priority and what we actually spend most of our time and energy on can be two very different things. Depending on where we are in life our biggest priority can be different things, focusing on family, career or even our health.

Does your top priority line up with your daily habits? Check out the book Essentialism for ways to do this better. Maybe you want to get a new job, but you haven’t been to a networking event in months. Or you’re trying to take a step back with work, but still find yourself emailing at 10pm! Make sure your actions line up with your priorities. If they don’t then it might be time to reassess.

Diminishing Returns – The law of diminishing returns is used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

Essentially the more effort you put into something the less you get out of it. How annoying is that?

It’s good to remember though, when you feel like you’ve been pushing a goal or idea for too long – maybe it’s time to ease up a bit?

For example, how many times have you heard people say they found their romantic partner once they stopped looking? The same can be said for many other goals. I know a few people who have been stuck in the ‘research’ phase of writing a book, because they keep finding more and more information pulling them in different directions. At some point you just have to draw a line in the sand and start writing!

When it comes to your goals it’s as Mindy Kaling said –

“Don’t trust any one story of how to become successful.”

Find the path that works for you, it doesn’t have to look like what your 21-year-old self imagined.

 

(VIDEO) Priorigami App Helps to Prioritize Your To-Dos

I’m always on the lookout for new list-making apps that do more than just store your lists. Helpful, productivity-based apps are not always that easy to come by. Which is why I was excited when I first discovered Priorigami.

The founder of the app, Monisha Longacre was inspired by her love of the Fitbit, and brought its goal-driven style to her productivity app. I was so impressed I arranged a video chat with Monisha to discuss her app and how it can help people prioritize their day.

Check out the video here, where we discuss the following:

  • 3:10 – How to stick to your priorities
  • 5:15 – Why completing your list should feel as good as when you complete your 10,000 steps on your Fitbit!
  • 6:45 – How to create a priority system
  • 8:30 – Finding the prioritization method that works best for you
  • 9:00 – The afternoon shuffle up, or why you should always take a moment to re-think your priorities.
  • 10:45 – How to deal with lingering tasks
  • 12:30 – The importance of breaking your lists down into steps
  • 13:20 Monisha’s top tip!

Priorigami is a free app – if you download the app let me know what you think!

Expert List Techniques You’re Not Doing – But Should! (+ a freebie!)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’re probably a pretty savvy list maker. So how do you take it to the next level?

Getting the most out of your list, firstly, means understanding how priorities work. For example, today you might want to pick up groceries and also start planning the first chapter of your book. (That’s two separate lists – I’m sure you already know that!)  But how do you make sure that the here and now doesn’t override your long term goals?

Split your lists into lists: Immediate Priority vs Long-Term Priority

Not only do I believe in having multiple lists, but those lists can be split into different categories. We aren’t talking about daily to-do lists here to be clear. These lists are IMMEDIATE PRIORITY vs. LONG-TERM PRIORITY lists.

I like to use Evernote to keep my goals separate – and I split them into 2 notebooks. Your active list is what you are going to do for the week (like writing that book chapter!) or other important things that are on your mind – like knocking off some of your Christmas shopping! In another notebook I store my long-term priority list. This is where I keep all my ongoing projects and reminders for things I need to do later in the month or later in the year.

For example, if your goal for now is to write chapter one of your book, it’s a good idea to keep your outlines for the later chapters in this notebook. You don’t need them right now, but you’ll want to have them handy for reference. Or you can keep links to the Google Docs where you keep your notes or inspiration in this folder as well.  Anything that will make it easier for you to start crossing off tasks is helpful.

Be very specific  

With your IMMEDIATE PRIORITY list you need to be very specific. For example, I make my daily to-do lists at the end of each day. I think of every email or phone call I want to make the next day and I clearly write out what needs to be done.  Instead of “emails” I will write “send an email to Trisha about Monday’s event” This helps me to keep on task during the day.  I’m also automatically prioritizing as I write my list.  

To learn how to do that sign up for my free giveaway “Prioritize Like a Pro.”

With LONG-TERM PRIORITY lists it’s good to have an overarching idea of what you want to do, but it’s best not to get too bogged down in the details. To go back to the book example, you would set yourself a deadline for when you want to complete each chapter and write and outline for each of them. But you wouldn’t plan the days you’re going to write it until you’re closer to that deadline. Then you can pull from that list when the time comes to make your daily to-do lists.

Plus these lists can overlap each other – by that I mean you’ll be using them at the same time. So you should reference them and pull items from the long-term priority list and stick it on the immediate priority lists. Eventually it will graduate to the daily to-do list. Think of each list as a stepping stone – as you move from one to the next you’re closer to completing the task.

The reason I keep these separate is so that you can focus more on what’s on your daily to-do list without getting too distracted by those big goals. I would recommend checking in on your long term priority list every week or so.  This way you know what tasks you have coming up. But you won’t feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do.  

If you’d like to check out my system to Prioritize Like a Pro fill in the form below and I’ll send you my free giveaway.