Reduce Your Personal Energy Drain

Whether it’s the call to renew your insurance, schedule a doctor’s appointment or return personal emails (Merry Belated Christmas, anyone?), remembering everything on your life’s to do list can take its toll on your stress level. Free up energy and brain space by eliminating the distractions by writing them down. Use electronic to do lists and task managers such as Remember the Milk.com, FruitfulTime.com or even Tasks in Microsoft Outlook to separate your to do lists into categories—work, home or personal.

An old soul who prefers paper? Designate a notebook or journal that you use frequently to jot down your duties and keep it handy. Try these tips for creating a “do-able” to do list.

• Order your tasks in relative priority, understanding that some things are not easily prioritized into first, second or third. Try using the letters A, B and C to create three levels of priority labels instead. A-level tasks must be completed today. B-level tasks must be completed in the coming week. C-level tasks can be completed as time allows.

• It’s a small mental trick, but if you’re someone who likes lists and doing things in order, avoid putting the most difficult task at the top. If “pulling your wisdom teeth” is at the top of your list, that can distract you from getting started or be a mental block that can prevent you from tackling the other duties further down the list.

• Are you stuck? Try reordering your list for a fresh view of your responsibilities at hand.

• Break down large tasks into smaller tasks. Pinpointing the very first step is key when trying to start a big project.

• A good rule of thumb for listing your priorities: If it takes more than 1 hour, break it down further; if it takes less than 5 minutes, group it with another.

Writing down these tasks will help put your mind at ease that you’re not forgetting anything and serve as a reminder to complete them.