It is often said that if you want to get a series of tasks completed then you should have a To-Do list (also known as a task list).
Okay, that all sounds boring and they don’t really work….. or do they?
We are going to prove to you that they do work.
Work Smart: How to Write a To-Do List
When Should You Create a To-Do List?
Most of us just struggle through life, tackling the things we have to do in any old random order. We assume that To-Do lists are just for busy work executives. The truth is that anyone and everyone could, and should, use a To-Do list.
If you are feeling over-whelmed then, to get back on track, you MUST clear out your brain of its internal clutter and create a To-Do list. Once all of the current chaos from your brain is organized onto a to-do list, then it’s surprising how clearly you start to think.
Work in an office?
If you work in an office, you will undoubtedly have a number of different tasks to complete each day. The number of tasks being thrown at you is probably increasing every year. Therefore, a To-Do list is a must if you want to get things done in an efficient and effective way and keep your head above water.
Are you a project manager?
If you are going through a project management training program, like 6 Sigma or Prince, you will be told that you need to-do lists.
If you are self-employed you will have a number of tasks that need completing. Getting orders, completing the actual work, organizing your finances. If you are not organized then you will miss sales opportunities, upset customers, or leave yourself open to fines through not paying your taxes.
If you are a busy parent then you will need a To-Do list. This will ensure that your family life runs as smooth as possible, without forgetting any health appointments, children’s parties, sports days etc..
Making home improvements?
If you are remodeling your home then you will need a To-Do list to ensure that you have all of the tools and equipment needed, or to organize your life around any potential visits from workmen.
Working through a goal-setting program?
If you are going through a goal-setting program, like those of Brain Tracy, then at some point you will need a To-Do list as the small stepping-stones to help you achieve your bigger goals.
Following Law of Attraction?
If you are following a Law of Attraction program, then you will need to have a To-Do list. A to-do list is a vital part of any manifesting program, a fact that “The Secret” sadly neglected to tell us.
And many of you will have 2 or 3 of the above going on at the same time….. So you DEFINITELY need a To-Do list!!!!
All of the above is understandable, but how exactly should you tackle a To-Do list?
5 Ideas to Get That To-Do List Done
Here are FIVE simple ideas to help you get that To-Do list done fast and effectively.
1. Plan ahead
You might have already heard that you should create your To-Do list the day or night before. There are 2 vital reasons for this:
a) Organizing the things you need to do (even on a simple list), will release them from your brain. This will allow you to have a much better sleep. With improved sleep you will wake up more refreshed and in a better state to actually tackle the To-Do list – without feeling shattered after completing the first 2 items.
b) Having a clear idea about what you need to do the following day will soak into your subconscious mind whilst you sleep. And it’s your subconscious mind where all of your creative power is stored. With this in place, you will be amazed at how often you will wake up with an excellent idea on how you can tackle one, or more, of the items that you have on your list.
2. Chunk down tasks
There is a classic saying:
“How do you eat an elephant?”
Answer……One mouthful at a time.
If you have large complex time-consuming tasks, take time to see how you can break them down into smaller tasks – so that they become ‘tasks within tasks’ and therefore much more manageable.
By seeing the whole job as a series of smaller tasks, it will be easier to get each job done. Fifteen minute tasks are ideal. You may end up with 50 items on your list, but you will become so motivated as you blitz through 10 of them in the first hour.
3. Bulk similar tasks together
This is almost the opposite to the previous one,. However, this works even better in its efficiency.
For example, if you receive a lot of phone calls throughout the day, then block off a certain portion of your day where you only allow these calls to go to voice-mail. Then set aside another part of your day where you only do phone calls (making calls and receiving them).
Blocking time out like this can also be done for things like filing, or reading emails. The trick is to do them all at once so your brain has time to get ‘in the flow’ of doing a similar task over and over again (and so become more efficient at it).
Or if you are doing a lot of things around the home, think about doing things like making that shopping trip when you are already going out to drop the kids off at school (killing two birds with one stone).
All of this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people ‘waste’ so much time by ‘flitting’ from one task to another.
4. Start off with the hard stuff
Do Your Worst Task First (Or, Eat a Live Frog Every Morning).
We often procrastinate throughout the day because we literally freeze at the thought of doing that ‘difficult task’.
So start off with the most difficult task on your To-Do list (like that horrible phone call you’ve been putting off). Because once you have completed this you will know that things can only get easier for the rest of the day. You will start to relax, knowing that the stressful ‘problem’ has been put to bed. And once you are relaxed you will become much more effective with the rest of your work.
But what is ‘difficult’?
Of course, the most difficult task will mean different things to different people. Some people struggle to make those sales calls. Other people might struggle to write a report. Whatever you perceive to be the most difficult task then take a deep breath and go for it.
5. Take it Easy
An alternative to the above is to start off with the really easy stuff. Perhaps group 10 or more things together that are only going to take you 5 minutes or less each. Then in the space of an hour you can really see a massive dent in your To-Do list.
The purpose of this is to get some momentum into your working day from the very first minute. Then, the confidence and motivation will flow as you speed into the more difficult tasks.
However, do NOT fall into the trap of procrastinating on the important tasks, using the excuse of filing a few papers to ‘get them out-of-the-way quickly’.
You’ll notice that numbers 4 & 5 above are the complete opposite of each other, so which one should you choose?
Simple…. The one that WORKS for YOU and makes you more efficient in your work!!
Some people write a ‘Do’ list instead of a ‘To Do’ list. It’s only a small difference but it sends out a much stronger message to your subconscious mind. The weaker “To Do” suggests that it might NEVER be done.
We really have only scratched the surface with this topic. There is much more to learn about goal-setting, productivity, and time management.
There is some fantastic advanced learning on this subject which you can access from the links below.
REMEMBER: You control the time, don’t let the time control you.