Do you feel overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do lists? You are not alone!

These lists evoke negative emotions in most people. They seem like silent reminders showing us just how far “behind” we are and how impossible it is to ever catch up.

It doesn’t have to be like this. There is another way to work with your to-do list that is much more fun and energizing and will help you simplify your days.

It all begins with the realization that your to-do list is a tool that is there to help you, not the other way around. When I realized that my to-do list is really there to support me, rather than me having to satisfy it, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

What’s good about to-do lists:
1. Jotting things down on paper alleviates having to think of them or worrying that you might forget.
2. From your list, you can choose the items you feel most compelled to do each day.
3. Your list is a reflection of what is going on in your mind. Get curious about your choices.
4. The list offers a place to decide what to do about the to-do’s:
• Do I want to do it myself?
• Do I want to delegate the task?
• Do I want to scratch it off the list because it is simply not that important?

Here are a few ideas that will help your list work for you:
1. Look at your existing list and acknowledge that this is merely a tool serving you.
2. Go through your existing list and qualify items with M (meaningful), U (urgent), D (can be delegated and write down who you want to ask for help), E (eliminate, because it really isn’t serving you to spend your or anyone's time on this)
3. Once you have qualified your list, ask yourself: Which three things do I most want to act on today? Highlight those and start working on the easiest one right away…this will fuel your energy supply to get ready for the next slightly more challenging task.
4. Celebrate each accomplishment in a way that is meaningful for you. E.g. take a deep breath, smile at yourself, draw a smiley face next to your accomplished task on your list, or whatever feels best to do.
5. By the end off the day, enjoy reviewing your list. Focus on your accomplishments.
6. In the morning, review your list and start back at point 3.

If your list just seems too long and daunting, ask yourself, “Who is this list serving?” If you notice that this is really your boss' list, your spouse's list, or your kids' list, then maybe it's time to put yourself back on the list and ask “What is it that I most long to do?” Things such as having a soothing bath, going for a walk, talking to a friend, dancing, or laughing may come to mind. Put the activity that you most long for on top of your to-do list and your list will remind you to take care of yourself first.

Author's Bio: 

Julia James, CPCC, PCC, M.Sc. is a multi-lingual certified life coach, award-winning author and international speaker. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance in their lives through individual coaching and workshops. Author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution and the audio CD series, Guided Mini-Retreats for Busy People, she provides tools to manage stress effectively and to relax and re-energize quickly. Julia has been featured on Joy TV, CBC News, as well as in The Globe & Mail, Glow Magazine, BC Business Magazine and The Vancouver Observer. For more information visit: