Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of all the things you have to do each day and the day after? 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!
Making a to do list not only helps you prioritize and compartmentalize tasks, but it also helps you start your day with an agenda specifically designed to meet your goals. 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.
A good start in making a working to do list is to make your to do list at the end of the day…the day before the to do list is actually to be acted upon. In doing this, you can accurately gauge what needs done tomorrow after you have completed what needed done today. Your frame of mind is set, and you will be starting a new day with your thoughts already focused on what your priorities are. This beats trying to figure out where to start as you sip your morning coffee.
Most people probably think of to do lists as a piece of scratch paper with random, often vague, words scribbled across it. While it may seem helpful to just write some things down, this practice is not organized, nor is it akin to making a list of goal- setting priorities. So, let’s update your to do list!
Your to do list should be a list that employs 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 is next thing that I need to do? Do you have all of the steps that come before your next action complete and in place to move forward?” If so, add this 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 someone/something completes their portion of the task.
- List 3: Follow up Later: These tasks 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” list. 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.
Just 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.
Do you have any tips or helpful hints?
Here are some quick tips:
The time of day is key
Decide what time of day you are the most productive and block list exclusively. Think about a time of day when you are most productive – that’s when you want to focus on tackling your to do list. 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? 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! Building momentum as you complete these tasks will naturally propel you towards completing the others. 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. The momentum that you have started by working small will give you drive to keep moving forward. You may surprise yourself by being almost done with a larger task without even realizing that you had started it.
If you can only accomplish one thing…
To optimize a busy day, decide what items MUST be done that day. Organize your tasks by numbering them (i.e. most important task = 1, least important= 10) and work through them in that order. If you find yourself short on time, decide what the most important thing on your list is that must be done that day. To do this, ask yourself, “If nothing else gets done today, what is the ONE thing that I must cross off of my to do list today?” Continue to ask this question as you prioritize your tasks.This method enables you to optimize the precious minutes you have available in order to accomplish what is most beneficial for you.