The Dangers of Keeping a Mental To-Do List and How to Fix It
As a CEO, you likely have a lot on your plate. It can be tempting to keep a mental to-do
list to try and keep track of everything that needs to be accomplished. However, this
habit can actually be counterproductive and even dangerous to your mental health.
An article from The Corporate Governance Institute states, in the same way that boards
approach other corporate risks, it is important they treat mental health – including the
mental health of CEOs and their executive team – as a corporate risk that must be
identified and managed effectively.
When you keep a mental to-do list, you are constantly overthinking and trying to
remember everything you need to do. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and even
burnout. Additionally, relying solely on your memory can lead to important tasks slipping
through the cracks, causing further stress and potential negative consequences for your
So, what can you do to fix this issue? Here are some productivity tips for CEOs looking
to improve their task management:
1. Write it down: Instead of relying on your memory, write down your to-do list on paper
or in a digital task management tool. This will free up mental space and allow you to
focus on other important tasks.
2. Prioritize: Once you have your list, prioritize your tasks based on importance and
urgency. This will help you stay focused on what needs to be done first and prevent you
from feeling overwhelmed.
3. Break it down: If a task seems too daunting, break it down into smaller, manageable
tasks. This will make it easier to tackle and help you feel a sense of accomplishment as
you check off each small task.
The importance of breaking down tasks
Breaking down tasks is a crucial aspect of effective task management. When you are
faced with a large, complex task, it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to
start. Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks can make it easier to
approach and accomplish.
Not only does breaking down tasks make them more manageable, but it also provides a
sense of accomplishment as each small task is completed. This can help motivate you
to keep going and tackle the larger task at hand.
Additionally, breaking down tasks can help you identify potential roadblocks or
challenges that may arise. By anticipating these issues, you can better prepare for them
and come up with solutions ahead of time.
Breaking down tasks can also be helpful when delegating tasks to others. By providing
clear, specific instructions for each small task, you can ensure that everyone is on the
same page and working towards the same goal.
Overall, breaking down tasks is an important aspect of effective task management. By
taking the time to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, you can
increase productivity, reduce stress, and achieve your goals more efficiently.
4. Delegate: As a CEO, you will likely have a team of employees who can help share
the workload. Delegate tasks to others who are better suited for the job or who have the
bandwidth to take on additional tasks.
• Delegating tasks to others who are better suited for the job: As a CEO, you
may have employees with specific expertise or skills that can be utilized for
certain tasks. Delegating tasks to those who are better suited for them can save
time and improve overall productivity.
• Delegating tasks to others who have the bandwidth: If you have a lot on your
plate and are feeling overwhelmed, delegating tasks to others who have the
bandwidth to take them on can be a helpful strategy. This can free up your time
and mental space to focus on other important tasks.
Overall, delegation is an important aspect of effective task management. By delegating
tasks to others and providing clear instructions, you can save time and improve
5. Use task management tools: There are many digital task management tools available
that can help you keep track of your to-do list and prioritize tasks. Some popular options
include Trello, Asana, and Monday.com.
In conclusion, keeping a mental to-do list might seem like a good idea, but it can
actually be detrimental to your productivity and mental health. Mental health deserves
significant attention at all levels of business including CEOs and executive levels. By
utilizing the tips above and implementing a task management system, you can improve
your productivity and reduce stress in your daily work life. Coaching is also an antidote
to the stress and overwhelm caused by mental overload. I challenge you to schedule a
complimentary call with me to help you get on top of mental overload starting now.