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Draw up a to-think list alongside your to-do list

Many of us spend the day in slavish obedience to our to-do lists. While it's important to get things done, entrepreneur Rajesh Setty, on his Life Beyond Code blog, says it's also important to think, and that means keeping a to-think list."Without one, you will be swamped with catching up on your to-do list, and taking time to think will keep going back on your priority list," he writes. Place items on it that you want to think over in future; when you get the time, tackle items from the list.

You might also want to supplement your to-do list with an "I-did" list. Entrepreneur James Altucher on his blog says that at the end of the day, when you're drained, it helps to write down what you accomplished. It is usually double or triple what you thought you did.

Trainer Tim Millburn says the problem with a to-do list is that it can seem overwhelming – more than you can accomplish in one sitting. So throughout the day you should be focusing on two specific tasks. The first is what you should act on now. Whether it's something you have planned to tackle or something that has just come up, he says on his blog that it's important to always know what comes next. That may be helped by also always knowing – and preparing – for what you must do next. That should be just one item: "If we look at the next five to 10 things we have to do next, we'll become paralyzed by the overwhelming sense we can't get it all done."

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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