Master Your To-Do List

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of all the things  you have to do every day, day after day after day…? Are you missing deadlines or always running just a little bit behind? If so, it’s time to implement a good ol’ fashion To-Do list! If not, you’re either enjoying retirement or you’ve already discovered the wonders of a To-do list. 

Making a To-do list not only helps you prioritize and compartmentalize tasks but also helps you start your day with an agenda specifically designed to meet your goals. We don’t have a sure-fire recipe to get you any closer to that retirement—if we did, we probably wouldn’t be here ourselves—but with a proper To-do list in hand, you have a plan for productivity and long-term success that is broken down into an easy-to-follow checklist. 

Categorize Your To-Do List

Your To-do list should employ the use of a few different categories specifically designed to evaluate what is most important to you. We recommend the following categories:

  • List 1: To-do: For each task that you are considering adding to your list, start by asking yourself, “Is this the next thing that I need to do? Do I have all of the steps that come before my next action complete and in place to move forward?” If so, add the task to this list. If not, then it should automatically be moved to one of the following lists.
  • List 2: Waiting-On: What tasks do you have that are on hold until you have additional input or direction? These tasks should not be at the top of your to do list; after all, you cannot actually do anything until this portion of the task is completed.
  • List 3: Follow-up Later: These are tasks that while they are still important, they cannot be completed now. These tasks will eventually move to the main To-do list at the right time, but for now they will remain to be completed until the appropriate time.

As you sit down at your desk, work from your To-do Dist.  The “Waiting-On” and “Follow-Up Later” tasks will eventually move there, but put these in a drawer or someplace safe until the right time.

Here are some quick to-do list tips:

The time of day is key

Decide what time of day you are most productive and block list exclusively.    Are you ready to jump in first thing in the morning? Or do you have to make it through a few cups of coffee before you’re ready to talk to someone? Maybe your even one of those who works best when the sun goes down…no judgement here. No matter, just think about when you are the most productive and time block that time on your calendar to focus on executing your list.

Build momentum as you go

Organize your tasks from smallest/shortest to largest/longest. Seeing many of your smaller tasks checked off already encourages you to keep going!   As you look at your list, do you feel overwhelmed by the huge tasks on it? If so, start small. Build your confidence by working on smaller things so you can Check Off Your List before moving on to the larger tasks. If you can only accomplish one thing…

To optimize a busy day, decide what items MUST be done that day.  If you find yourself short on time, decide what the most important thing on your list is that must be done that day. Start by asking yourself, “If nothing else gets done today, what is the ONE thing that I must cross off of my To-do list today?” This method enables you to optimize the precious minutes you have available in order to accomplish what is most beneficial for you.

Simply by making a few small changes in your daily planning strategy, you can add an amazing level of organization and efficiency to each day! As you implement to do lists to your daily activity, share how it has helped you. (Also, let us know if you figure out the retirement thing.)