Achieving our goals while meeting deadlines is always harder than it seems. Juggling between work, family, hanging out with friends and other stuff can be very exhausting. At one point or another, every single one of us has wished for a 30+ hour day to get everything done.
The key to success on days like that lies in good organization. We need to determine which tasks need our immediate focus and effort and which can be postponed. Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a stay-at-home mom, in order to get something done you’ll have to deal with high priority tasks first and leave the minor ones for later down the road. This applies to everyone, we need to prioritize.
How do people manage this? Easy, by making a To-Do list – in plain language, a list of tasks you intend to accomplish on any given day. A To-Do list is a great productivity tool for organizing your daily activities. Unfortunately, not everyone uses their To-Do lists to the fullest. There are pitfalls that you need to be aware of.
It may seem that making a To-Do list is straightforward, but it isn’t. Finding the right balance between menial chores and high-impact tasks can be tough. Not to mention how overwhelming going through a large list can be.
At one point, you probably had trouble crossing out some of the entries on your list and stressed out more than you should. For this reason, we’ve prepared 6 tips that will help you improve your To-Do list meet your daily goals.
Prepare It The Night Before
Do you have a tendency to plan out your daily tasks after you wake up? This wastes a ton of your energy and the day has barely even started yet. Many of us do this regularly and this is an important habit to break.
You can accomplish this by planning ahead and writing your To-Do list the night before. Take a few minutes before you go to sleep and go through everything you need to do. This way, you can hit the ground running the next morning with a clear agenda in mind. A recent study has even shown that prepping your list the night before can even help you sleep better to tackle your list the next day.
No need to waste time in the morning figuring out what to do next.
Keep it simple
Crossing out ten or more things out of the list is not realistic. At least, not in a 24 hour day, and that’s how much time we have. Not being able to get all your tasks done can seriously hinder your productivity and make you feel bad.
Our advice – don’t overdo it. Keep your list simple, no need to make it a mile-long list. Exclude the easy-to-complete tasks that require almost no effort – as we stated before prioritization is of the utmost importance.
Hence, if your list has more than five things on it, you’re doing it wrong. Trim down your list to five most important tasks that will drive you closer to your goal and give it your best to check them off before the day ends.
Tackle The Biggest Task First
Your productivity and energy levels are not consistent throughout the day and your list should reflect this. Be strategic. Don’t waste your time and energy on low-impact tasks. Organize your list in such a way that the biggest and most important tasks are prioritized at the top and deal with them first before mowing down the list.
How do you determine what a “big and important” task is? Ask yourself this: “If I get only one thing done today, what task will make me feel most accomplished?” Another way to go about it is to determine which tasks on your list are important versus those that are urgent.
For sure, you might feel accomplished if you’ve managed to take your clothes to the dry cleaner. Nonetheless, you’ll agree it’s a meaningless accomplishment compared to, let’s say making sure that your company meets an important deadline.
Clearly, the latter bears more importance and has more impact on the bigger picture.
If you’re that faithful pen & paper type of person, it might be time to consider switching to a more feature-rich solution – smartphone apps. Yes, there is something satisfying in crossing off an entry from the To-Do list with a pen, but now, there are all sorts of apps that can take your task management to a whole new level.
After all, people are dependent on their mobile devices more than ever. We always have them by our side, why not make the most of them?
Here’s our round-up of To-Do list apps that will facilitate your agenda-completing tasks wherever you are:
- Todoist (Free, Premium $31.99/year) – Todoist is a productivity app that allows you to create tasks and organize them as per your liking on any device. You also get filters and labels to further tweak your task organization. Keep in mind, if you want reminders and notifications, you’ll have to get a premium account.
- Wunderlist (Free, Premium $4.99/month) – Wunderlist is an easy-to-use, cross-platform To-Do list Manager. It enables you to create lists, share them with others, set reminders, and assign tasks to team members among other useful features.
- Remember the Milk (Free, Premium $39.99/year) – Don’t let the name fool you, Remember the Milk is another great app for To-Do lists and, in fact, it has been around longer than Todoist and Wunderlist. The app allows you to save and organize your To-Do lists hassle-free.
Remember one thing, your willpower is the one thing that will drive you forward to get things done. Apps are just the tools to use along the way. Our suggestion is to pick one app and stick with it.
Review & Edit It
We live in a fast-paced world and our priorities can change in a heartbeat. For instance, you might come to work with clear tasks you need to get done in your mind. But, this can change at any moment. One unpredictable occurrence is all it takes to disrupt your plans.
You shouldn’t stick blindly to your list if a “bigger” matter emerges, requiring your immediate attention. Don’t regard your daily schedule as set in stone. Review it throughout the day and make adjustments to it if necessary.
Ask yourself: “Is there something I could’ve done differently/efficiently?” If yes, note it down on your To-do list for tomorrow and do it. By doing so, you’ll get a better understanding of your workflow and eventually, improve your organization.
A well-crafted To-Do list will guide you through your day. Hopefully, these productivity tips will help you out the next time you start making your daily plan. Bottom line, it’s all about what works best for you – try out different methods to find the planning system that delivers the highest productivity level.
Do you have a handy tip that should be included in the list? Did you find this article helpful? Let us know in the comments section below.