Do you want to write a to-do list that truly helps you get things done? Here are some tips to get you started.
Getting the Most out of your To-Do List
Writing a to-do list sounds easy. However, there is a big difference between simply writing out a list of tasks to complete and writing one that actually helps you get those things done.
Without prioritization, time management, and self-discipline, you might just be stuck with a never-ending and overwhelming list of things you hardly know where to start on. Luckily, there are some strategies you can use to make it simple.
Here are some helpful tips you can use to get the most out of your to-do list.
1. Less Is More
According to a LinkedIn Survey, 41% of to-do items and to to-do lists are never actually completed. If you overload your list with a thousand things, you will likely either simply not get to most of them, or get a lot of things done with little finesse.
Be realistic when crafting your to-do list. There are only so many hours in a day, however, there are other days in the week during which you can get things done. Budget your time realistically to minimize stress.
2. Use “if-then” Planning
Organizing your projects and goals in writing is a great first step. However, especially for complex tasks, you want to break down each specific step. This will allow you to track your progress and create more accurate timelines for your work.
“If- then” planning can help you create a reasonable to-do list that works. This type of planning not only helps you outline what you need to do, but answers the questions of when and where it will happen. This is the general format of an if-then statement:
“If/when XYZ occurs, then I will XYZ.”
For example, “If it is Monday morning, I will check my emails.”
“If-then” planning helps you to get things done on a schedule, even if you are flagging in motivation occasionally.
3. Write It Down The Old Fashioned Way
While you can download and purchase all kinds of calendar and planner apps and gadgets, Princeton research shows that you might be better off taking old fashioned notes.
Writing things out makes people be more selective, which makes whatever they are processing mentally by writing more memorable. This means that when you write out your to-do list by hand, it will help you get a strong mental picture of what you need to do. It may also help you stick to it better.
4. Section It Up
If you have so much on your mind that you find it hard to focus on specific tasks from time to time, you might find it difficult to cut through the mental clutter. In this case, you might benefit from dividing your to-do list into more manageable sections.
You may even want to have separate lists with different priority levels. For example, a must-do list, followed by lists of things of descending importance. Do whatever helps you visualize your day and helps you stay on track.
5. The “SUG” Method
When it comes to crafting to-do lists, it is very important to prioritize correctly. If you you are not prioritizing, there is a good chance that you are having trouble crossing off everything that you want to get done.
In order to help, try out the “SUG” method. SUG stands for:
- Seriousness: How important is this item?
- Urgency: How long will it take to complete it?
- Growth: If I wait to take care of this task, will the issue get worse?
Ask yourself these questions for every task. Then arrange the SUG catagories into columns. For seriousness and urgency, rank high or medium. For growth, rank yes or no.
Once you finish you will have a list of prioritized tasks and be ready to tackle them in a smart way.
6. Mark Your Most Important Tasks
After you have a neatly organized and prioritized to-do list, take another look at it. Think about your top two or three most important tasks. Mark them as your most important tasks.
These are tasks that you need to get done as soon as possible, because they will lead to the biggest results or have the largest consequences.
7. Make a Final “Done” List
Just because someone appears busy, does not mean that they are actually getting the things done that they need to do.
We all have had days where we feel like we’ve run around endlessly and done a million things, and yet somehow still wonder what we actually accomplished at the end of them.
If this takes a toll on your morale, you might want to create a “done” companion list to your “to-do” list. This list will include everything you have successfully done over the course of the day.
It will include everything from little wins to big achievements. In this way, you will always know what you still have to do, but also exactly what you have accomplished day in and day out.
In fact, reflecting on your achievements actually makes you more productive by giving you an endorphin release. This will boost your mood and increase your energy.
Always Make The List
Ultimately, to-do lists are about helping you reflect and focus on your achievements and tasks, so you can be the most productive you that you can be. Especially if you find yourself overwhelmed day in and day out with the amount you have to tackle, to-do lists can be worthwhile exercises.
To do lists can help you break seemingly impossible large tasks into smaller more manageable ones. By breaking down the steps you can keep track of your tasks and make them feel much more manageable.
The keys are prioritization, being realistic, organization, and reflection. These are things that make a to-do list truly effective and worthwhile. They can help boost your productivity and held you handle everything from little tasks to big ones.
In which ways do you think to-do lists are the most beneficial? Comment below…