I’m queen of adding things I’ve already done to my lists so that I can cross it off. Anyone else? Though that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished more, I actually haven’t. I can have four different to-do lists and even if I’m crossing things off (or maybe not), I’m still not being as productive as I could be. Here are a few ideas for how to improve the way you make your lists so you can actually accomplish more.
Use one platform for lists
Having lists on your phone and by the fridge and in the car are great, but they won’t make you feel like you’re moving forward. (Can you even find your list right now?!). Find what location (phone or paper) works best for you and minimize the items on the list. With a long list, you often accomplish less and feel more discouraged at the end of the day. Less is always more, even with to-do lists. I prefer paper for my daily list, but my on going ones are by category in Wunderlist (one of many great list apps).
Identify the tasks based on the end goal
For example, you put “do laundry” on your list. What are the chances you’ll actually be able to cross that off by the end of the day? It could be on there all week in some households. The end goal is that the laundry is completed, but the active tasks for the list should be “fold laundry,” “put away laundry,” etc. The tasks are proactive and leads you to the end goal.
Only add what needs to be accomplished
Many times we add things to our lists because “it just needs to be done.” But does it really need to be? Or maybe it does, but not today or even this week. Only add things to your list that need to actually be accomplished. If you have tasks you would like to get to eventually, such as washing the baseboards or updating family photos in your frames, add those to a “future” to-do list. A future list is a place to keep all your ideas and on going tasks so that you remember them, but it’s not the list you are working from on a daily basis.
Make your list the night before
If you make it the night prior, your mind is cleared to sleep and you have direction when you get up in the morning.
Identify urgent vs important
Author Stephen Covey discusses that in order to not waste time in our days, we must differentiate between what is urgent vs important. We waste time with last minute prep to complete urgent tasks, and we waste time doing things that seem important, but are not (at least not important today). Think before you write a task down. If items aren’t urgent or currently important, why are they on your list?
The concept of how to be more productive will appear in another blog post, but over all remember the well known tale that the solution is working smarter not harder. You don’t realize how much a to-do list can affect your mind set and feeling of accomplishment in a day. So be smarter in how you make that list!
For those of you who don’t make lists, I bow down to you. I’m not sure I could survive without the structure of a list.
How do you manage your weeks with a forward motion?