Here's What You Can Do Daily To Keep Burnout Away
Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock
My first thought was, “It’s impossible! No one can get things done by only completing six tasks every day.” After all, if we’re not busy from the moment we wake up until late after sunset, we’re just not doing enough with our lives.
However, once I understood how this approach works, I decided to try it. Here’s what I’ve learned.
What’s the 6-Task Model?
I first learned about the 6-task model when I was writing for a business coach. But it’s nothing new. Some people call it the Ivy Lee method, and it’s a 100-year-old way to plan your to-do list and become more productive.
In plain words, it’s a straightforward method to plan your days with balance in mind, and it consists in making sure your to-do list has precisely six tasks every day, listed in a specific order. At the end of each day, you decide the six most important tasks you want to accomplish the following day and list them in order of importance.
This way, you start your day knowing what needs to be done, and you can attack tasks in the correct order. In the morning, you no longer have to decide what to start with or which work should have priority, making it easy to start working right away and accomplish at least one or two essential tasks before lunch.
Easy to say, a little more challenging to put into practice. How can you start experimenting with this method?
Learn to Prioritize
When deciding to reduce your to-do list to six items, the main challenge is ranking them by importance. When you’re already overwhelmed by deadlines and you’re used to being busy all the time, it’s hard to take the time to break down your daily activities and point to the things that genuinely make a difference.
One of the most popular tools used to prioritize tasks is the Eisenhauer matrix, a four-box square in which you list activities by dividing them into four categories:
- Urgent and important (first quadrant)
- Not urgent and important (second quadrant)
- Urgent and not important (third quadrant)
- Not urgent and not important (fourth quadrant)
The idea behind this matrix is that you start your day with important and urgent things, plan whatever is essential but not urgent, delegate what’s not critical, and eliminate everything in the fourth quadrant.
This tool can categorize tasks and only pick the most important six tasks to focus on every day. It helps you stay focused and makes you more productive as you build this new habit.
The ultimate purpose is to reach the milestone where you rarely have urgent tasks because you’re planning your work so effectively that you never risk missing a deadline.
Consistency Saves the Day
The other thing that matters when you try the 6-task method is that you’re intentional in your planning and don’t cheat by putting several tasks in one. Moreover, you need to be consistent and write your to-do list every evening for this to work.
Building new working habits requires a bit of extra self-discipline, especially if you’ve constantly been busy for years, and having this new system in place forces you to step outside your comfort zone.
Last but not least, you need to set clear boundaries: Everything that doesn’t have room on the 6-task to-do list must go to the following day so you can finally earn back your free time and avoid burnout.
Does It Really Work?
Sometimes, this way of handling working tasks is perfect for me. I get things done, have time for self-care, and get dinner ready in time. However, sometimes it’s not that easy, especially when I forget to write the list or pull tasks from thin air to keep myself busy for longer.
Procrastination is another barrier that makes my planning inconsistent. I write it down in my daily planner, putting a time frame next to each task. However, I wake up with a headache, or my kids do their magic, and I don’t get anything done all morning.
The good thing in all of this is that I’ve become better at prioritizing. I might not always stick to six tasks a day, but I no longer waste my time on useless activities. I can take my kids to music lessons, go grocery shopping on a Wednesday morning, and lose myself in TikTok videos without missing deadlines. And I haven’t experienced burnout in a long time.
It’s a business model that can quickly turn into a lifestyle and help me, as a work-from-home mother, to stay on top of whatever challenges my kids put on my plate.