When my to-do list piles up, I use this productivity trick
At the start of this week, I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed. I’d been on holiday over the Christmas period, and on returning to the UK I had two back-to-back weeks of 13-hour shifts at the hospital. In that time, various things had piled up in my email inbox and my to-do list. To sort through this mess, I used a productivity trick that sounds simple but is incredibly effective – I asked myself the following question:
What’s the one thing I can do today that’ll take the largest load off my shoulders?
I triaged my to-do list based on this one-thing-per-day principle. And each day for the last week, I did just that – one thing. Now it’s the end of the week, and my mind genuinely feels lighter than it has in ages because I’ve bashed through the tasks that were weighing me down.
So that’s the message of today’s post – if you’re struggling with a long list of tasks, don’t try to be a multitasking productivity master. Just do one thing per day, starting with the one that’s causing the most angst, and your spirit will be free.
That’s the end of the useful bit of this post, but if you fancy reading about my to-do list this week, here it is.
My to-do list
Overall, I didn’t get as much done on Wednesday to Friday as I would’ve liked, but I accomplished my one thing per day most days so that’s a win.
Monday – Updated the 6med website with our BMAT and UCAT course dates for the year. This just takes a few hours of work each year, but because it’s quite boring, I always put it off until we start getting frantic emails and phone calls from parents desperate to book their kids onto one of our (amazing) courses.
Tuesday – Wrote up the plan for a Quality Improvement Project aimed at improving the way FY1s (ie: the most junior doctors like me) are trained to respond to cardiac arrest calls. Sent this to two colleagues and the consultant supervising us.
Wednesday – Filmed and edited 2 videos, and replied to all my outstanding emails to schedule sponsored videos for the next 1-2 months. I had the day off (because I’m working on the weekend) so I probably could’ve done more, but oh well.
Thursday – Intended to film another video, ended up being a wasteman and just playing some piano and guitar in the evening after work.
Friday – Filmed a video, edited another one. Probably could’ve done a lot more if I’d been more efficient, but enjoyment is just as important as efficiency in my book.
Saturday – 8:30am-9:00pm shift at work. By about 7pm there was nothing left to do on the ward, so I bashed through a tonne of patient data for an audit about the management of high-grade Ovarian Cancer. Sent it off to the supervisor with a feeling of relief as this had been looming over me for 2 weeks.
Sunday – 8:30am-9pm shift at work. It’s currently 3pm and I’m writing this post in my lunch break. That’s the one task for today 😜
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