Trick your brain into doing more of that to-do list

This is a busy time of year. School is coming to a close, but there's a lot going on before it's over. Big work projects may be wrapping up before summer vacation starts. And it can get overwhelming.

I posted to Facebook recently how utterly overwhelmed I was feeling. I showed you that I need to keep a to-do list nearby - an old-fashioned pen and paper list.

Seems you, too, were getting was I was feeling. Here are some of your comments.

Lori Houston does her "simplest, quickest task...first." This accomplishment gets her motivated to keep going. My friend says she does the toughest first and gets it out of the way. Ronda Hyatt says do "3 things" then stop, rejoice and repeat. And, Sheila Ayers says her to-do list is on her phone. On paper, she says, she'll lose it.

So I thought I'd cobble a few things together for those of you in the same shape as I am in right now.  First, yes, make that list however you need to do it - paper, phone, color code, whatever it is. But you still have to do it. Here's a problem, 41 percent of our to-do lists remain undone.

Here are some tricks. According to Psychology Today, you should make an if-then list. If or when (blank) occurs, then I will (blank). 

Let's try one: If it's Monday, Wednesday or Friday, then I will exercise after work. This, approach, rather than just writing "exercise" on your list, will apparently trick your brain into taking action. Sounded a bit hokey, but I tried it. It worked. I don't know what it is, but it worked.

One of our viewers recommended I read an online book called, "Eat That Frog." I've started it, but here's one take away: the 80/20 Rule of Time Management. The theory is that "20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results." If you have 10 things on your list, focus first on the two with the biggest impact. Those two, the author says, will be worth more than the other eight combined.

Now let's go back to Ronda Hyatt's suggestion - stop and rejoice. Take a deep breath. Do nothing for a minute or 10 after you've completed a few things. When I'm being good I use an app to help me slow down.

Here are two you might try. I use one called Calm. Another that is highly recommended is called Insight Timer. You can select a type of meditation like stretching, breathing, or just listening to sounds in nature. You set a timer, close your eyes and drift away for a few minutes.

Whatever works for you. Good luck. Let's get though May then go on vacation.