The to-do checklist is the crux of your every day productiveness, however between all the duty administration apps on the market, totally different productiveness strategies, and different miscellaneous life hacks, your to-do checklist has most likely gotten cluttered and sophisticated. Here’s the right way to take it again to fundamentals and craft a to-do checklist that really helps you get issues performed.
We share infinite quantities of various suggestions, methods, and “life hacks” for growing your productiveness, however at a sure level, it turns into an excessive amount of and also you spend more time hacking your to-do list than you actually spend doing stuff. If that sounds such as you, then it’s time to revisit the way you handle your to-do checklist.
Some people assume to-do lists are a waste of time, that they develop into guilt-inducing medicine that hinder you from truly being productive. Some say it’s best to be capable to keep in mind all the things you need to do. We are likely to disagree: when you’ve got the appropriate angle, a to-do checklist generally is a nice “backup” for the duties in your mind. I discover that if I write my duties down, I’m far much less harassed as a result of I do know I received’t neglect something, and once I’m performed with one job, I can transfer proper onto the subsequent with out reorganizing the checklist in my mind. Plus, they’re perfect for those little tasks that simply fall by the wayside as a result of nobody needs to do them: paying payments, calling customer support, and so forth.
It could seem ironic that you just’re studying this text and going by means of the method when that’s the very drawback that bought you into this mess, but when performed proper, it’s best to be capable to save your self loads of hassle sooner or later. Here’s what you should do.
Pick the Right Medium
How many to-do apps have you ever tried previously yr? If your reply is greater than three, it’s too many. Pick one and keep it up. It shouldn’t be too laborious to select one based mostly on the gadgets you utilize and what you’re prepared to pay. Check out our Hive Five on the subject to see the minor variations between every, and choose one. We’re going to make use of Wunderlist within the screenshots of this submit, since it’s our favorite, however the methods we use ought to work in almost any to-do app. If you discover an app is an excessive amount of hassle, pen and paper or a plain textual content file is a good various.
Whatever you find yourself with, ensure that it’s straightforward to make use of. The faster you possibly can add and take away duties, the extra time you’ll truly spend doing them. You ought to by no means spend quite a lot of seconds in a to-do app at any given time. If you’re, you’re falling again into that pit of over-organizing.
Add and Organize Your Tasks
Now that you just’ve bought someplace to jot down your duties down, it’s time to be sure you’re utilizing it in a approach that makes your to-do checklist helpful (and never simply one other checklist hanging over your head). We’ve lined loads of this in our information to making your to-do list doable, and with good motive—these guidelines are fairly timeless. But we’ve simplified issues a bit so you possibly can slowly ease your self into your personal productiveness methodology. Right now, we need to solely take into consideration a very powerful issues that make a to-do checklist helpful. Here are the belongings you’ll need to remember.
Break Big Projects Down Into Actionable Tasks: You’ve heard this earlier than, but it surely’s probably the most vital issues you are able to do. If you should discover a new condominium, then including “Find an Apartment” to your job checklist isn’t going to assist. Instead, add step one of that mission. Maybe that’s “Research LA Crime Rates” so you possibly can slim down a neighborhood. Whatever it’s, ensure that it’s one thing actionable that you are able to do in just some minutes. When you end that, you possibly can transfer on to the subsequent job in a mission.
Add Any Info You Need to Get the Task Done: Include telephone numbers, hyperlinks, and different information you’ll want to start out getting the duty performed. For instance, if one in all your duties is asking Comcast Customer Service, your job would say “Call Comcast, 1-800-934-6489.” That approach, in case you’re sitting round with a couple of minutes to kill, you possibly can soar on that job with out having to open your browser and discover the quantity.
Separate Work, Personal, and Other Tasks Into Categories: One of my largest to-do checklist issues is mixing private duties, work duties, and chores all on the identical checklist. Most to-do apps have a strategy to separate these. Some apps name it a “context” tag, others have separate “lists” with tabs so you possibly can swap between every. That approach, you possibly can view simply your work to-dos from 9-5, and your private to-dos when Saturday comes alongside and you’ve got some free time to kill. (If you’re utilizing the pen-and-paper methodology, you possibly can simply create every checklist on a separate piece of paper.)
Some additionally advocate including a “mission” tag to your job checklist, so you recognize the place it matches within the bigger scheme of issues. I don’t do that, as I discover this crosses within the line into “too difficult,” however in case you discover that this tag makes issues simpler, go forward and add that too.
Give Each Task a Priority: It could seem foolish to assign arbitrary numbers or letters to your duties, and also you shouldn’t consider these as mega vital, however giving every job a easy 1-Four once you create it makes your to-do checklist manage itself. That approach, once you get to work and take a look at your to-do checklist, you don’t want to consider what to do first—you simply begin on the prime of the checklist and begin working your approach down. Remember to factor both urgency and importance into the precedence. Again, don’t overthink this—you’re simply giving your to-do checklist the flexibility to arrange itself, to a sure extent.
Keep the List Short: If you may have too many duties in your checklist, the entire thing will begin to really feel overwhelming and also you’ll run into that guilt-inducing drug drawback once more. The shorter you retain your to-do checklist, the extra targeted you might be on the current. Some say keep it under 20 items, whereas others say keep it down to 3. Don’t give it some thought too laborious—you’ll know if it’s too large or not when sure issues don’t get performed or once you really feel just like the checklist is hanging over your head.
Focus On the Present: One of one of the best methods to maintain your to-do checklist brief and doable is to keep away from far-off future duties. If you don’t want to consider it for just a few weeks, put it on a separate checklist (or higher but, your calendar) and fear about it when it requires your consideration.
Make Sure Tasks Get Done Every Day
So now you’ve bought your preliminary job checklist down, it’s time to truly get to work. You shouldn’t should mess together with your to-do checklist an excessive amount of any more, so long as you decide to the easy rules outlined above. Check issues off as you end them, add new duties as they pop up, and don’t spend an excessive amount of time pruning—all its going to do is distract you out of your precise work. If you discover you should continuously go in and prune, you should determine what it’s about your system that’s inefficient and do away with it. If you aren’t certain what to do, err on the aspect of easier strategies.
Each day you have to be checking off a variety of gadgets. If you aren’t, there’s one thing improper together with your to-do checklist (otherwise you aren’t getting something performed). If you should, put aside a little bit of time on the finish of the day to shortly consider what you need to accomplish tomorrow, ensure that these gadgets are on the prime of your to-do checklist, and ensure they get checked off the subsequent day. Don’t overburden your self (in any case, new duties will at all times crop up throughout the day), however simply ensure that your checklist is getting used and that duties aren’t sitting there for too lengthy. If you need to, purge it on the finish of the week and begin over to ensure it by no means stops being helpful.
Other “Life Hacks” You Can Add Later
None of that is to say that the “life hacks” we share every single day are ineffective. It’s simply that generally, we go a bit of overboard and make issues too difficult for ourselves. Everyone works otherwise, although, and a few of these little suggestions—when used sparingly—could make your duties loads simpler to perform (although they’re removed from necessary). Once you’ve bought the grasp of your to-do checklist and utilizing it appears like second nature, right here are some things you may begin experimenting with one by one to make issues extra environment friendly.
Again, you don’t want to include all of those. Once you get used to having a to-do checklist that really works, chances are you’ll discover one or two areas that want enchancment, and that’s the place the above hacks can come in useful. Pick one or two that match into your workflow, if mandatory, and preserve transferring. Again, the extra time you spend experimenting and pruning, the much less time you spend truly getting issues performed. Photo by David Chico Pham.
Title picture by Tina Mailhot-Roberge.