It will come as no surprise that I love a good to-do list. Here are three reasons why:
1. They keep you organized- dur.
There are an infinite number of ways you can fill the hours of your day. Making a to-do list helps you to prioritize which tasks are most essential, and it helps you to stay focused on carrying out those tasks.
2. They are a fantastic remedy for anxiety
There are few things more anxiety-causing than constantly worrying about the things you need to get done. These thoughts attack at random and at usually the most inopportune times, such as the instant you’re about to drift into slumber. By writing a list, you alleviate yourself of a great deal of that anxiety.
3. They are a giant pat on the back
Crossing things off your to-do list feels freaking great.
With that in mind, here are some to-do list tips:
Determine what kind of to-do-er you are
There are as many formats of to-do lists as there are people in this world. Your first task is to determine what format works best for you. Try a few. See what feels most natural. Maybe it’s an electronic list, an iPhone app, a rotating post-it note chart, a good old fashioned paper draft.
Once you hit your sweet spot list-wise, stick to it. That means: don’t use five versions where one will do. Don’t use old, crumpled dry cleaning receipts and backs of envelopes just because they are within reach. You are only allowed one format in play at a time. Devote yourself to it. Love it. Shower it with praise- er, ink.
Drafting la list
1. BE REALISTIC. Really take some time to think about what you are going to be able to accomplish on any given day. Write down only those things.
You might think that it’s beneficial to just go ahead and jot down every single task you know you’ll need to attend to in the next six months. Actually, I tend to think that doing so is detrimental to your productivity.
To-do’s go the way of to-don’t when they make us feel like we’re really sucking at life (read: not accomplishing our goals). Having a massive to-do list weighted down by longer term goals that you can’t and won’t carry out on a daily basis can feel incredibly demoralizing.
You know yourself. You know what you are capable of, and how
lazy productive you are. Let that be your guide for how many things and what kinds of tasks to put on that list.
2. Categorize where you please
You may wish to keep separate lists for different types of tasks, or simply use separate headings/groupings on one list. As mentioned above, one of the main categories that I recommend distinguishing between are everyday tasks and long-term goals. Don’t confuse the two, and don’t lump them together. You may also wish to separate work tasks from home tasks, home tasks from beach home tasks, and so on. Use your judgement, and categorize where you see fit.
2. Break it down
Some tasks require many actionable steps. For instance “Get birthday present for Audrey” may actually involve “buy birthday present,” “buy wrapping supplies and a card,” wrap gift,” “write out card,” “ship gift.” I recommend writing out all these smaller steps. Doing so can make large tasks much more manageable.
3. Cross it off!
As per the back-patting reference above, nothing feels more satisfying than being able to check off items from your to-do list. True story: there are some days when I neglect to write out a list ahead of time. In that case I will more often than not write out a list after the fact of all the things I already attended to that day- just for the sheer glory of being able to cross them off. I kid you not. May sound silly, but it feels great to be able to see what you accomplished, and it’s helpful to be able to reference these lists later.
(Hint: you should be able to cross off most of the items from your to-do list on a daily basis. If not, you’re either being way too lazy, or you’re not doing the to-do right.)
Make time for love
Don’t let the time you spend with your list be random or seldom. Decide on a time when you will regularly sit down to go over your to-do. Perhaps mornings will be your time; you can wake up fresh and jot down all the things you want to get done that day. Or maybe you’ll prefer to craft them the night before. Whatever works best for you, so long as you continually show that list love. During this time you’ll also want to look back over your list from yesterday. Roll over any tasks that you didn’t manage to accomplish onto your new list.
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There you have it twinkies! My to-do list tips. Now, I would love to hear:
What’s your take on the old list? Love ’em? Loath ’em? Tips of your own… ’em? Do tell!