I started today with a 'To Do' list that was way too long, and not nearly enough time to get it all done. This tends to lead to procrastination as I try and work out what to do first. I've also realised (as a result of my Time Tracking), that I tend to switch from task to task, not always finishing what I've started.
Having too much to do, and not enough time, can lead to stress, and a lack of productivity. Your cognitive processing isn't as effective when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Long term stress can also lead to poor health outcomes. Are you aware of how having a challenging 'To Do' list makes your body and mind feel?
When I get stuck and overwhelmed by indecision I just start something. In the end, there is so much to do, that it is productive to just pick one and start. While this sounds easy, it's important that what you start is one of the significant, sometimes hard, tasks; and that you don't procrastinate by doing things that are easy but not important. There are two schools of thought - 'Eat the frog' which means do the thing that is least exciting and maybe the most challenging so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment; the other option is to choose something short and easy to finish so that you feel a sense of accomplishment and get powered up to do more. For me, working out whether I'm eating a frog or not is just another procrastinating decision - so I just pick the thing on the top of the list and do that. I then take a short break and tackle the next urgent thing.
It's most important to just start something, in order to get out of that cycle of stress and procrastination. 'To Do' lists can be overwhelming and never completed, so it's important to make the task list work for you (keep a long list, and then a "I'm doing this today" list that is more realistic). My mother once told me that she has an "I've done it" list, so that at the end of the day she could get a sense of accomplishment and have a reality check on just how much she did get done (which isn't always recognized by crossing stuff off the 'To Do' list) because sometimes we have To Do something else.
Today I finished a task that was long over due, and finished another task a day ahead of it's due date. Now I'm going to work on a task that isn't due for a few weeks but which takes time to get right. How did you go with your 'To Do' list?