Planning activities: the value of lists
Try to make it a habit to draw up a list in the evening for the day ahead, or the first thing in the morning.
Write down everything that has been buzzing around your head all day/night/week. Put anything down that comes into your head as a 'task you need to complete'. Strange as it may sound, once the tasks are written down, the stress reduces and your head will feel a lot lighter.
Think about whether the task is important or urgent. What needs to be done today? What can wait?
Once you have decided which tasks have priority, mark the list or reorganize it:
Mark the priority of each task with a letter – A, B or C. A is for tasks that are both urgent and important. B tasks should only be done after having finished A. If you still have time after this, move on to C tasks.
Another way is to highlight tasks you must do today. Only when those tasks are completed should you move on to others.
Or write the tasks you want to prioritize on a post-it note and stick it on top of your list.
Review your list at the end of the day. Tick everything you’ve completed. Have you completed the A tasks? Are there tasks that need to be carried over the next day? Write a new list and prioritize again. Beware of C tasks that keep getting moved from one list to the next. Is this task something that you don’t really need to do, or that you would feel anxious about and therefore avoiding?
While planning our days is helpful in reducing our stress, there are times when we are faced with unplanned activities and have to make a quick decision to prioritize. But you can keep your values and goals in mind, and rely on your instincts. Sometimes, taking time out to do something fun is a great stress reliever – especially if your instinct tells you so!