3 Simple Things To Knock Out Those To-Do Lists

23 December 2015,   By ,   0 Comments


When staying on task, you’re going to need that to-do list. It’s what keeps you on track and makes sure you don’t lose any of what you need to get done along the way! First thing you know you’re knocking out to-dos left and right, and next thing you know the days over and you’re only halfway done!  Well, that’s exactly why this article spoke to us and will speak to you too! Below are the 3 Simple Things To Knock Out Those To-Do Lists:

Follow these 3 simple steps.

1. Write everything down.

Make sure your list includes ALL of your to-do items – even the small tasks that you have swirling around your head taking up important brain space that may only take “a few minutes” to actually complete. And if you don’t have your personal goals, values and priorities at the forefront of your mind, take a moment to think about them and write those down too. You’ll need them for the next step.


2. Place your to-do items in quadrants.

As described in his book, Dr. Covey lists four quadrants of organization:

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.06.59 AM

Quadrant I contain our crises, deadline-driven projects, and pressing problems – all of which are critical for success. These tasks often share the following characteristics:

  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Dealing with late inputs from others
  • Lots of last minute changes due to insufficient planning
  • Leave us feeling drained

Many times, solving these problems (and getting the reward that doing so brings) gives us a temporary adrenalin rush… and that rush can become addictive. Focusing most of our time on Quadrant I results in it getting bigger and bigger until it dominates not just our work, but our life.


Quadrant II activities add the most value to our lives, goals, and projects. They involve developing and nurturing relationships, planning, strategy, and self-care. Characteristics include:

  • Tapping into our authentic selves
  • Thoughtful, creative work Advanced and/or detailed planning
  • Mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships
  • Feeling energetic and fulfilled

Because they’re not urgent, time for activities in this quadrant often gets squeezed out by all of our pressing tasks in Quadrants I and III. But focusing our attention (and intentions) on Quadrant II is the key to checking off items on our to-do list in a meaningful way.

Quadrant III is deceptive. We get sucked into it because the tasks are urgent like Quadrant I, but they lack value – at least value based on our priorities. They often include:

  • Interruptions (including incoming phone calls and email)
  • Unnecessary meetings or events called by others
  • Delegated work from people stuck in crisis mode (or just overwhelmed)
  • Outside “emergencies”

I’m not saying don’t help others, but be aware of how much you’re helping others at the expense of your own values and productivity. Too much time spent in this quadrant can breed resentment.


Quadrant IV activities are time wasters that mainly fall into two categories:

  • Procrastination of difficult tasks
  • Self-indulgent perfectionism on things that are already good enough

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve spent waaaay too much time in this quadrant…and I think you’re lying if you say you don’t spend any time here. Now I’m not saying we should abandon Quadrant IV altogether. If you need to take a break to blow off steam or de-stress, then by all means do it…just don’t get stuck there.

3. Set a few weekly goals that focus on Quadrant II.

“Oh sure…” I hear you asking, “But what about Quadrants I and III? They’re not going to magically disappear.”

And you’re right, they won’t. But shifting how you approach prioritization will reduce them over time and help you focus more on Quadrant II.

We can’t ignore Quadrant I – these things are important and need to get done. When possible, get them off your to-do list before your other tasks.

But then schedule that regular, dedicated time for planning, strategizing, and collaborating activities to reduce Quadrant I. Remember…time-sucking fire drills often come from a lack of planning.

To reduce Quadrant III, practice flexing your personal boundary muscles and say “no” to unnecessary requests from others. If possible, provide them with what they need to get their tasks done themselves.

As for Quadrant IV, try scheduling downtime into your day so you don’t become overwhelmed and feel the need to check out mentally.

Author: Maria Kubitz

Source: Abundant Yogi

Leave a Reply