5 ways to get the most out of your to-do list

Many of us write a to-do list, and then never look at it again. Here’s how to start ticking off items like never before.

 

From managing your studies to planning your work day, to-do lists can be invaluable – and highly satisfying to finish. But only if they’re used correctly. Here’s the top 5 changes you can make to ensure your lists are all crossed off.

 

 1.Write it the night before

For many people, energy levels are highest first thing in the morning, but all they’re doing is sitting figuring out what they’ll be doing later on. Writing your list the night before allows you to get your head straight, prepare for the next day and know what to expect.

 

2. Set criteria for list items

Everything on your list should; A: be something you yourself need to do, B: be something to be done on that day. Lists can very easily become cluttered by non-important items and it’s easy to lose focus. And, if you get through your most important tasks, you can always return to lesser jobs later.

 

When people don’t take control, they go through their days passively. They go to meetings, they answer email, and when they get to the end of the day, what they’ve done is responded to other people’s priorities and not their own.

Robert C. Pozen, Harvard Business School.

 

3. Assign time estimates

Every item on your list should have next to it and estimate of how long it will take to complete. This will help give a realistic idea of what you’re going to be able to complete when, as well as set a rough completion goal at the back of your mind.

 

4. Break up your list

Divide your list into what needs to be done chronology, broken down into specifics of the task. For example, you may have the day’s meetings as headers, and then what your need to take with you/hope to discuss as further detail. Include a section for non-timed tasks, in order of priority – it’ll help you avoid missing tasks.

 

5. Re-evaluate anything you’ve put off

If there’s a task always on your list that never gets ticked off, ask yourself why? Is it an unrealistic task, or is it not even important enough to make the list? Maybe you’re not dividing up your time correctly? Unaddressed items are red flags that need to be handled differently.

 

Article adapted from FastCompany

 

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