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SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best by Laura Stack

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Chapter 5. My To-Do List Has 117 Things on It!

SUPERCOMPETENT Hero Thinking:

I accomplish the day's most profitable and valuable tasks.

SIMPLY COMPETENT Zero Thinking:

I'm going to try to get as many things checked off my list as possible; I work to get things done.

Do you start and end the day overwhelmed, wondering if you've accomplished anything? If so, you probably haven't. Too often, people respond to brushfires as they occur. They feel as though they worked hard, but in reality it's like the tale of Shakespeare's idiot—full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And even when they're working from a to-do list, most people use the quantity-over-quality rule: They feel more accomplished when they can chop 20 things off their list in a day—never mind the fact that the one thing left over is 100 times more important than everything else put together.

Does this sound like you? If so, here are a few things you can try to make your daily efforts more worthwhile.

Eliminate To-Do List Anxiety

To-do lists aren't all bad. My biggest problem with them is that each item seems to take on the same level of importance. If you look at a list of 50 things, it's overwhelming. "Oh my goodness, I have 50 things to do! I need to finish this report by Friday, book my hotel for the business trip, send an e-mail to my client, learn Russian, and wash the dog!" Well, washing the dog would take ten minutes, as will writing that e-mail. But each ends up as just another item on the list of "things to do." As ...

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