Learn to Love Your To-Do List: Self-Recognition Through Time Management

By Sarah McVanel, Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified

image of a canopy of maple trees with the leaves changing colourIn Canada, there is this delicious window when the golden leaves don our trees. Are you too busy to enjoy them? Are you worried another fall will fly by where you will say, “Oh darn, I missed them!” Must you have to wave them goodbye from inside the office, or can you find time to enjoy them outside?

Let’s face it. The “to-do” list will not become the “to-done” list just because you sacrificed your wellness routine…yet again.


  • Tomorrow, give yourself a time limit on answering emails and force yourself to finish twice the work in half the time.
  • Send your regrets to your least productive meeting this week
  • Bump your start of the day half an hour earlier with a forced exit a half hour early. (Set your timer every weekday with an alert for when it is time to check out…do not hit snooze!)

Are you thinking to yourself, “Yeah, right, that would be nice, but that wouldn’t work for me!”. There’s actually research backing this up.

Parkinson’s Law is an old adage that says work expands to fill the time allotted for completion. If you have 8 hours to complete a task, it will take you 8 hours. If you only have 30 minutes, you will get it done in 30 minutes. When you know you have more time to complete something, the task grows in scope. (Fun fact: I studied this in my fourth-year psychology thesis wayyyyy back in the day when we all had to buy a Furby, we became brunch obsessed with the new Sex in the City gang, and berets became more than a fashion statement thanks to Bill and Ms. Lewinsky. Okay, back to the article…)

image of a couple walking in the woods enjoying the changing colours of the leavesBy shrinking the time you get for work, you can get more done in the time you have. It’s not that you’re inefficient; it’s just that you need to be miserly about it. Make work tasks audition into your life (versus life squeezing around work.)

If you want to be great tomorrow and know you can be, you need the mental, emotional, and physical energy to focus and perform. And that means, ironically, you may need to stop working and get outside.

PS. Looking for more organization and prioritization tips? We have just launched a very special, absolutely delicious signature program – ROCKSTAR Leadership! We want to help you and your team hone in on your organization, delegation and time management skills. Curious about it? Let’s connect.

Image of Sarah McVanel advertising her Rockstar Leadership content

Here are more self-care ideas designed to help you manage your time and wellness:

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

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