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Having too many items on your to-do list can be more than overwhelming. It can be downright stressful, and it can affect the quality of your work and personal projects.
Trying to do too much minimizes your focus on each task and forces you to rush through everything just to get it all done. It’s much better to take the time to complete fewer tasks correctly than to do more with diminished effort.
It’s also important to consciously understand the purpose of your to-do list. Not everything that goes into your list is a fully thought-out item. Some of the things we write down are impulse decisions, mere reminders, or unnecessary chores. Selecting the higher priority tasks from your list is the first important step to maximizing your efficiency.
Another thing to consider is the way you view your to-do list. The method and medium by which you create your list can affect your memory and level of commitment. In other words, your to-do list isn’t something that you should carelessly put together. It’s much more important than you think!
Here are 7 pro tips to help you strategize your to-do list and have a super productive day, every day.
- Create A Master To-Do List
Your master list is the place where all of your items go, including your house chores, your work items, the necessary, and the not-so-necessary. You can think of your master list as the stockpile from where you draw items to form your daily to-do list. It’s the place where you can brainstorm and write down any and every chore that comes to mind. Making a master list will reassure you that you’re not going to forget about anything that needs to get done, and it gives you a bird’s eye view of all of your tasks for the week ahead.
- Prioritize Your Items
Highlight or put a star next to the items on your master list that are most important. These include things that must get done or are time-sensitive with fast approaching deadlines. If you have trouble prioritizing and figuring out which areas of your life need the most attention, consider working with a life coach. Online coaching is one of the easiest ways to incorporate a deeper level of organization into your work and life, and it also gives you a chance to further examine your personal needs.
- Make Your List by Hand
Studies show that writing your to-do items down on paper aids in learning and memorization. Memorizing your to-do list will help you stay conscious of what needs to be done even when your list is not in front of you. It will also make you less likely to forget important tasks and prevent you from missing your deadlines. If you prefer to compile your lists digitally, try making a rough draft of your daily to-do list by hand before entering it into your device.
- Pick Your Top Three
When choosing which items will go into your daily to-do list, select no more than three priority items. Always assume that you won’t be able to check every single item off your ideal to-do list, as is often the case. Selecting three main items ensures that you get the most important things done in a reasonable timeframe. In addition, setting realistic expectations will help you plan your week better, and it will also protect you from burnout.
- Put Something Easy at The Top of Your Daily To-Do List
Start off your daily to-do list with something easy that you can accomplish fairly quickly. This will make you feel good and motivate you to get the rest of the items on your list done. A few examples of easy items are taking out the trash, washing dishes, or meditating. Try to start your list with something that you typically do in the morning, and organize it so that you can check items off in sequence as you go about your day.
- Set Up Milestones
If completing all the items on your to-do list keeps you productive and motivated, you should try setting up milestones by dividing your to-do list into sections for each part of your day. For example, you can create a to-do list with items that need to be completed before 11:00 AM, another with items to be checked off before 5:00 PM, and another to be completed before you go to bed. These not only give you little victories to celebrate, but they also help organize your list and the tasks ahead.
- Use Tools That Work
We’ve already established that old fashioned pen and paper are excellent to-do list tools, but there is an array of digital tools that work just as well. Apps or websites that sync across all of your devices are great places to keep your to-do list handy. Try using Trello, Google Keep, Evernote, or Microsoft OneNote. Try different systems until you find one that works best for you and your lifestyle. Make sure to keep your master list and your daily to-do list in the same place for ease of access and better organization.
The to-do list may be a little thing, but it makes an enormous impact on the way we operate and how efficiently we get through our days. Strategizing your to-do list will relieve some of your work-week anxiety, while compiling a master list will stave off any worries of forgetting important items. Not everyone works well under the same system, so it’s important to try as many different things as possible to see what works best for you.