How to Tackle Random To-Dos in Order to Get More Accomplished From Your To-Do List

April 3, 2023

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Do you always have some random to-dos that derail you from the important things but don’t know how to tackle them? Or sometimes you want these random things to come in so you don’t have to do your important yet drudgerous tasks? These seemingly tiny random to-dos can take us from place to place. And somehow, many places later, with nothing completed, we wonder, “how did we end up here?”.

No matter how prepared we try to be, random tasks will always pop up and can completely derail us. Of course, there are strategies and systems that you can use to tackle those unexpected things. Today, I will show you exactly how I use my two-part rule to deal with my life’s random to-dos. Let’s take a deep breath and get through those steps together!

Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast

How to Tackle Your To-Dos and Actually Accomplish Your To-Do List 

Have you ever had to drop off the shoes your kids forgot to school when you were busy? Has your neighbor down the street wanted to borrow four oranges while you were in the middle of something important? Do you have friends who always ask you for a small favor while you are doing your chores? Life is so random in these nuanced ways that we can’t control it.

“How should I tackle random to-dos?” This is always one of the first questions students ask when they join my Systemize Your Life community. But that’s for sure not the only occasion. My clients ask me during our coaching calls. High-level business owners and stay-at-home moms ask me when I work with them. I just hear the word “random” over and over again.

How to Look at Your To-do List

But I can promise you one thing. Your life is not as random as you think. There are things like random to-dos that you just have not looked at your life systematically yet. Once you look at your life with the Systemize Your life lens, you will notice the patterns, the similarities, the groups, and the automation in everything. Additionally, you will start to look at your random to-dos at an entirely different level.

“Your life is not as random as you think. You just have not looked at your life systematically yet.”

You will learn that the random to-dos have their own designated space and time. And there are specific criteria we need to use to tackle these random to-dos. This doesn’t mean the random tasks will never pop up. These uncontrollable random to-dos will pop up. And they can always pop up at the most unexpected time, but with my 2-step method, you will know exactly how to handle it.

My 2-Part System for Tackling Your To-Dos and Accomplishing Your To-Do List

When it comes to random to-dos, I use my two-part system called “Touch It Once and Done in Five.” I can make sure that I can work on my essential tasks with zero distractions by using this rule. Additionally, I can even accomplish those random tasks. Ideally, do not engage in those random things. Do not say yes to unexpected things. Pick up that one sock randomly lying on the floor at another time. Check that non-essential emails later.

But what if you still can’t hold back the urge to do it? Now this is where the “Touch It Once and Done In 5” rule comes in. The rules says you should only touch it once and finish it within 5 minutes. You cannot separate these two parts and do only one of them. The two parts work in combination to achieve the maximum effect.

A Real Life Example

Let me give you an example from my life. I have this thing called a one-sock gene. Basically, one sock always gets separated and randomly lies on the floor. It’s so weird. I don’t know how this happens. Before I pick up the sock, I ask myself, “if I pick up that sock, can I put it away in 5 min?”. If the answer is yes, I will do it. But I make sure I return to what I should be doing after 5 min.

During the 5 min I am doing my random to-dos, I am constantly reminding myself of what I should do. My brain is continuously saying and repeating, “Let me just quickly finish this, and I will go right back to my important tasks afterwards.” Now, Let’s dive deeper into the two parts individually.

Tackle Your To-Dos System – Part 1 of the Rule: Touch It Once

The first part of the rule is that you should only touch your random to-dos once. If you pick up an item from your car that belongs to a cabinet, you are not allowed to pick it up and put it on the kitchen table instead. Because later, you’d have to go to the kitchen table to pick the item up and put it in the cabinet.

Not only does this waste more time, but once you go to the kitchen table later, random to-dos may pop up and trigger more random things like a domino. Ultimately, you will waste so much time on this item instead of doing something more essential. So, my rule is that if you are not willing to do the random task correctly, don’t do it now. Leave it until you can do it correctly in one try.

Tackle Your To-Dos System – Part 2 of the Rule: Done in 5

The second part of the rule is that you should be able to finish the random to-dos in five minutes max. Let’s continue with our one-sock scenario. Sometimes, as you walk to the closet to put the sock away, you may notice something else in the closet that you want to do something about. For example, the black shirt is not in the black clothes section. Or you notice that one closet area is not as neat as you wish.

Or you see there are unwashed clothes in your laundry hamper. You will notice so many things that you need to reorganize and may find more chores. If you don’t set your mind to finish putting away the sock in 5 minutes, your brain might trigger you to do more tasks.

What If Accomplishing My To-Dos Takes Longer Than 5 Minutes

What if a task takes more than 5 minutes? Then it should be put onto your to-do list in your calendar or planner, where they are designated to have their own space and time. That’s why I’m constantly deciphering between “is this something that actually needs to be scheduled in my calendar” and “is it something that I can tackle really quickly?”.

A lot of times, things that seem tiny can actually take more than 5 minutes to accomplish. For example, calling a dentist, booking appointments, doing your neighbors a favor, etc. They should be scheduled in your calendar so you can have a specific time of your week to accomplish them.

Implementing My Touch It Once and Done in 5 Rule in Your Life in Order to Accomplish Your To-do List

With my Touch It Once and Done In 5 rule, I can stay on track with my important task all day long and get through every single intention without getting derailed and wasting time. Through using this system, I am easily able to accomplish my to-dos each and every week. Furthermore, I am able to execute and complete the random to-dos quickly.

Imagine if you can accomplish all of your essential tasks in life and your business without getting derailed by random to-dos. Isn’t it nice? So, I encourage you to implement this two-part rule next time you have some teeny-tiny things steering you down.

How to Make This Tackle Your To-Do List System Work For You

First, think about whether you can only work on it once. And second, think about whether this task needs to be scheduled into your calendar or whether it can be quickly finished in 5 minutes. If you can do it in 5 minutes, then go get that task done and quickly come back to the important task you are working on.

I have been using this two-part rule for so long. It has helped me tremendously! I know this will help you as much as it has helped me. I believe you will be able to use this rule to systemize your random to-dos and avoid them from derailing you from your important work.

Looking for a Community to Share Your Progress on Tackling Random To-Dos?

We would love to hear your thoughts and see your progress in tackling your random to-dos. So come join our FREE Facebook community! Want to learn more strategies for tackling random to-dos? Want to systemize the other parts of your life? I invite you to join my Systemize Your Life Academy. You will learn how to live systematically in only four weeks. You can join as a DIY student or a VIP student, where you will also be part of the student community. I can’t wait to see you there!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule the random to-dos that take more than 5 minutes to my calendar?

The best way to schedule the random to-dos that take more than 5 minutes is to use time-blocking. Check out my FREE time-blocking worksheet to learn the basics of time-blocking, develop the right time block for your tasks, and put what you learn into action.


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