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In between work, studying and socializing it can be difficult to meet deadlines and achieve goals. We can’t do everything at once and not having a starting point means that we’ll never conquer our deadlines! That’s why I am a huge fan of to-do lists. It’s an opportunity for me to dump everything onto a piece of paper so that I no longer need to remember it.
After reading Damon Zahariades book, To-Do List Formula: A Stress-Free Guide To Creating To-Do Lists That Work, I realized that my previous methods weren’t working for me. I was writing my tasks down and expecting miracles to happen. I wasn’t prioritizing or being specific enough.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TASKS
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times already but prioritizing your to-do list really is important! I like to use Eisenhower’s important/urgent method:
- important and urgent
- not important and urgent
- important and not urgent
- not important and not urgent
Go through your to-do list and rate the tasks by their importance and urgency. Those that rank higher will need to be completed first. Add these to the top of your list to remind you of its importance. For the tasks that fit into the ‘not important and not urgent’ category, ask yourself whether these need to be on your list at all.
Most people fail with to-do lists because they aren’t specific enough. For example, if you just write down ‘plan next summer vacation’ then it’s so broad that it’s almost impossible to check it off your list anytime soon. Think about everything that goes into planning a vacation – booking travel tickets, booking hotel, buying new clothes, booking excursions, etc.
Add the specific tasks to your to-do list instead. That way you’re more likely to cross them off sooner!
ALLOCATE TIME TO YOUR TO-DO LIST
Estimate how long it will take you to complete each task on your list. Depending on the size of the task, add extra time to allow for interruptions. If you use a daily planner you can then use your estimated times to schedule in what tasks can be completed that day. Note: Remember to complete your important and urgent tasks first!
INTEGRATE YOUR PLANNER
Utilize your planner so that your to-do list fits in to your planning routine. Add your to-do list to your planner as an individual insert or split it down to fit into your daily/weekly planner. Spend time each day to review your to-do list and add additional tasks if necessary.
If you prefer to use your planner to time block then you could use your allocated time (previous step) to block the minutes/hours out in your planner to complete the task. I use the Filofax Domino
MAKE YOUR TO-DO LIST FUN
Your to-do list doesn’t have to be boring! Use stickers and washi tape to vamp your list up so you’ll want to look it!
DON’T OVERWHELM YOURSELF
We’d all love to accomplish a thousand tasks a day but realistically, it’s not gonna happen. Over-scheduling your list will only result in you being stressed out and overwhelmed and isn’t that the reason why we wanted to use a to-do list in the first place!?
Make sure that your day is filled with tasks that you know you have a very good chance of checking off. Moving a task from day to day is ineffective and will only make you feel that you’re not fulfilling anything.
Aim to complete your three most important tasks each day. If you have time, you could always add additional tasks to your list.
Do you have any extra tips to use your to-do list to be more productive? I’d love to know! Feel free to add them in the comments below! If you found this post to be useful, make sure you share it to social media!