How a Regular To-Do List Can Reduce Stress

Published on 07/12/2019


The traditional to-do list certainly has its haters but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a very useful tool in many different ways. 

How do you arrange your tasks on a daily basis?

Do you use a calendar? Do you use a specific technique, such as the Pomodoro Technique? Do you have your own bespoke method whilst you’re sitting at your office chair, enabling you to hit every deadline and target you have?

Everyone arranges their work in a different way, but if you’re regularly feeling overwhelmed and perhaps dealing with workplace stress, it could be that your time management technique of choice isn’t really working for you. 

Maybe it’s time to go back to basics?

What Does a To-Do List do For Work Stress?

Put simply, it helps you to feel in control of your workload. Let’s face it, one of the main causes of stress in the workplace is feeling like you don’t have control over the amount of work you have to do. You sit at your office chairs feeling like time is ticking by far too fast and work isn’t being done quickly enough. 

You might have unrealistic targets to meet, and that in itself is an issue. However, whatever the reason may be, a to-do list can help you regain control and boost your confidence as a result. It does, however, hinge on you ensuring that whatever you put on your list to complete in one day is realistic and not something which simply can’t be achieved without a gargantuan, superhuman effort!

So, write everything down that you need to do for that particular day and then start prioritising it in order to importance and urgency. Check out this infographic which talks about how to prioritise properly and effectively. 

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This is one of the simplest yet most effective time management techniques you can try for yourself. It’s also one which most people think is too simple and therefore don’t attempt to do. Sometimes the simple things work best!

It’s likely that throughout the day, whilst you’re sat at your executive desk, ticking off items as you go, that something will come your way to knock your flow off-kilter. Don’t panic!

It’s normal that something will come and cause your list to be a little out of flow but this is a normal part of working in a busy and demanding office. In that case, you simply rejig your list to ensure that you can complete the most important and most urgent tasks. If you can’t finish everything you had on your original list, that’s fine; you simply reorganise those unimportant or less urgent tasks for tomorrow and place them higher up the list as a result of not getting around to them on the first day. 

Always be Realistic!

Whilst you’re sitting in your office chairs, desperately trying to get everything finished, you need to keep one thing in mind - realism.

You are human. That means you cannot complete a million tasks in one day and expect to do it all well. You’ll make mistakes and you will waste your own time. Instead, focus on doing things which are realistic. 

One of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace is focusing on things which simply aren’t achievable. You might try and do three reports in one day, purely to hit a deadline, when you know that only two is realistic. By attempting to do three, you’re setting yourself up for failure and that will contribute to how you’re affected by workplace stress. Your confidence will tumble and you’ll notice that the next day you’re far less productive still, because you’re still hooked on what you didn’t do the day before. 

Only schedule in what you know you can do comfortably and if you do have spare time for something else at the end of the day, sure, go ahead and do a little extra! Don’t put extra pressure on yourself and cause a work stress response from your office tables that you really don’t need. Nobody should push themselves beyond human limits!

So, why not try the old fashioned route this week and see how it affects your stress levels?

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