Let Freedom & Todoist help you make more time for what matters this year
Many of us are experiencing greater freedom than ever over managing our time. As knowledge workers, many of us are no longer constrained to the shackles of 9 – 5; we have the flexibility to organize our work and our time in ways that work best for us. But at the same time, it often seems like there is more work than ever before to get done.
When our contribution at work is increasingly assessed based on output (rather than hours frittered away in an office), being organized and efficient is critical. Tools like Todoist are incredibly powerful in ensuring all our tasks are accounted for so that we can prioritize key activities or time-box our day.
But what about distraction? All too often, we sit down, ready to systematically work through the day’s plan, and then something gets in the way. An urgent email pops up, a slack notification interrupts us, or we suddenly have the urge to see if those long-lusted-over boots are now on discount… Before we realize it, we have derailed ourselves from the things that are most important.
So how can we make the most of our time? What is the key to knowing what you need to get done and then actually being able to achieve it? Todoist has teamed up with Freedom, the leading experts in distraction management, to give you some best-in-class advice on how to really make the most of your day.
Tidy Up Your To-Do List
Your to-do list is an extension of your mind. It’s not only a place to help you focus on today’s priorities, but it’s also a place where you can keep ideas and future projects stowed away.
But just like any storage space, your to-do list needs de-cluttering from time to time. If you don’t keep on top of it, it can become more of a hindrance than a help – you don’t want to be wasting time sifting through a messy list wondering what to work on next. A tidy task list makes for a tidy mind, and as well as improving productivity, you’ll notice increased mental clarity and improved decision-making, and even your mood will be boosted!
Taking a cue from Marie Kondo’s excellent The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Todoist has shown how you can declutter your task list in the same way Marie tidies physical belongings: by establishing a few simple, organizational habits.
- Make sure that all your tasks are relevant to the way you want to live your life and your goals.
- Regularly clean up your list, deleting any items that are no longer relevant and can hold you back. The same way clutter in our lives can.
- Make sure all the tasks have their place, creating groups in your to-do list for related tasks.
- Keep working on this new habit. You will see how a decluttered to-do list leads to a clearer mindset, but for lasting benefits, you need to revisit and review it regularly.
Learn how to prioritize
As we mentioned, it feels like there has never been more for everyone to manage. On top of that, we have huge expectations about what to achieve at work, and in our home, family and social lives.
The first step, as Todoist has shown, is to accept that we simply can not achieve everything:
“Prioritization is the process of embracing the limits of your time and energy, freeing yourself from the expectation that you have to do it all, and taking back control of your to-do list. Ultimately, it’s about leading a life that’s aligned with your values.”
The next is to acknowledge that there are certain things in life that should take priority over everything else: Our health, sleep & rest, family, friends & relationships, and productive work. Meanwhile, some things, like social media & entertainment, busy work, and even negativity, are best avoided.
Finally, make a list of all your tasks, and using the Eisenhower Matrix, organize them based on their importance, not their urgency. Use this as a way to resist all the other shiny things that might tempt us through the day.
Schedule your Energy, Not your Time
There is a growing body of research on the impact that time of day has on our decisions, actions, and reactions. In his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink outlines how, throughout the day, we will all likely have a peak of performance, a trough, and then a rebound.
We can choose to schedule tasks that fit with our ability at a particular time of day.
- During your peak phase, your energy levels will be at their highest. Analytical work or work requiring high levels of focus and attention, is best done during the peak.
- Trough time is when your energy will be lacking and it may be much harder to focus. This is a great time to plow through some of the more mundane tasks, like filing expenses, organizing your task list, or catching up on email.
- During your rebound phase, you won’t have the same energy levels as during your peak, although research has found that often people are most creative at this time of day.
You can protect your energy throughout the day by reducing decision fatigue, which can accumulate if you have to make multiple daily decisions. One of the most recurring decisions is whether or not to let yourself give in to distraction. With Freedom, you can protect your peak and rebound moments of the day from digital distractions, thereby maintaining higher energy levels and staying on task.
Identify your workplace kryptonite
So you’ve decluttered your to-do list, you’ve prioritized your tasks, and planned them to best fit with your energy levels. But the distractions are still lurking, waiting to pounce. This is when it becomes really important to understand, what is your workplace kryptonite? What is likely to be your greatest source of distraction? How can you anticipate it and then stop it from derailing your day?
- The problem: is email your kryptonite? The solution: use Freedom to block email so that you can only check it 2 – 4 times a day
- The problem: are you trying to multi-task (which we all know doesn’t work)? The solution: use Freedom’s Pause extension to help limit the constant browser tab hopping and impulses
- The problem: are you doomscrolling? The solution: use Freedom to create a recurring schedule where you block your biggest doomscrolling distractions.
- The problem: you spend an excessive amount of time responding to others’ questions, needs, or priorities rather than your own. The solution: use time blocking with your calendar to carve out specific times for doing deep work.
- The problem: you struggle to keep focus during meetings. The solution: create Start Now Freedom blocks for scheduled meetings.
Use Todoist & Freedom to manage your time
When we’re staring at a long list of tasks and projects, it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed and burned out. Even doing simple tasks feels difficult, let alone the more complex, challenging ones.
It’s not paralysis by analysis. We know what needs to be done. It’s paralysis by reality. There’s a ton to be done and we have a limited supply of time and energy. And so we procrastinate and avoid starting anything. Then the distractions take hold and another day goes by.
With Todoist, you can take back control of your to-do list. Start by accepting that you can’t and won’t ever do and be everything. With your life and work goals in mind, declutter, organize, and prioritize your task list. Then, whenever possible, structure your daily tasks in line with your energy. With this plan in place, you’ll be protecting your ability to get things done. Then manage those distractions by turning on Freedom to block out the online noise so that you can focus on the things that matter and make the most of your time.