Dear High Achiever:

QUESTION: Do you have too much to do on your “To Do” List?

Answer: Yes, of course you do.

I use to think it was cool to have twenty or thirty things on my “To Do” List. It meant I was busy. I’d be on the phone and someone would ask me how it’s going and I’d say, “I’ve got sooo much going on … its crazy busy … I’ve got too much to do … my plate is full. Man, you know what they say, stress is an empty calendar.”

And I’d continue to ramble on like that, fueled by Starbucks for breakfast and Red Bull for lunch.

That was years ago. And it’s a good thing my thinking changed or I still might sound unaware and uninformed, insisting that I’m sooo busy, I’m frantic and worse yet, like I have very little time to talk to the person who I should be trying to make feel important because, hey!, they called me.

The better way: Shouldn’t I – and you – sound and be in control of business and life. Doesn’t it make more sense to not come across as barely able to manage, distracted from giving 100% by time management strategies that obviously aren’t working.

No doubt, stress can be an empty calendar. But your business and social calendar is far different than a “To Do” List. It’s also different than your short- and long-term goals.

We discuss all of the differences, in detail, in the Fourth Volume of the Best Year Ever! Program, Got Time? How to Prioritize and Maximize Your 24/7/365. But to honor your time and my goal of keeping each FYI between 800 and 1,000 words, I’m going to share with you one simple strategy that I was introduced to five years ago. This one strategy will help you get more done in less time and make you feel good in the process.

If you have a “To Do” List (and I hope you do) I want to encourage you to look at your existing list in a different way. I’m also going to ask you to have an open mind when you read about this strategy.

It’s as simple as this: Prioritize The Top Five Things you have to do each day. Stephen Covey, calls it “Doing first things first.” I call it, smart. When I first read about this I thought there was no way I could ever remove fifteen to twenty things from my list. I first had to accept the change and then I really embraced it and I’ve been using this strategy since 2003.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean going to the cleaners, picking up stamps at the post office and for me, it doesn’t mean working-out. I mention working-out because even though exercising is a major part of my life, so is brushing my teeth and taking a shower. I don’t need to put things like that on my list.

FYI IDEA IN ACTION: Just prioritize The Top Five Things you need to do that are “most important” to your overall effectiveness for the day. Then devote yourself to getting them done. Don’t sweat items six through whatever.

Try it this week. Two driving forces in life are to gain pleasure; the other is to avoid pain. Prioritizing and completing a task makes you feel good. Just the act of crossing it off your list is empowering.

It’s this “Completion Principle” that makes you feel good. When you are faced with a list of twenty or thirty tasks, you can feel defeated before you even start. This leads to perpetually moving the uncompleted task to the next day. You then become overwhelmed, wiping out any chance of a positive mental state and simultaneously zapping your energy, leaving you feeling NOT GOOD.

The goal-setting goal is to win and feel good. Take your usual daily “To Do” List and remove everything for the day except The Top Five Things you know are critical to your overall success for the day. Try taking the other ten or fifteen things and slot them into your Outlook calendar or whatever daily planner you use.

The Top-Five-Things Payoff: When you check off your last-of-five task, you will be amazed at how good you feel. Do this for the next five days and I promise, you will be hooked on “The Completion Principle.”

Go Out and Make This Your Best Year Ever!

Author's Bio: 

Eric Taylor is the Chief Inspiration Officer of and founder of New Jersey based Empowerment Group International. He delivers more than 100 energized and interactive keynotes, workshops and seminars each year to corporations, associations and tradeshows. He is the author of the Energy Passport, Co-creator of the Best Year Ever! Success System and Co-author of The Complete Sales Training Encyclopedia. To get complete details about Eric’s background, his products and services, visit Eric Taylor’s Blog and review Eric Taylor’s Profile.