Is your to-do list helping you get things done? Or do you jot it down in the morning and maybe look at it again right before you head home for the day? The way you use your to-do list will affect how productive you are. You can do better than jotting down a list on a scratch piece of paper. Learn five steps to help you revamp the way you tackle your to-do list.
1. Set up your to-do list
The first thing you need to do is to create a scheduled block of time each day when you write down your to-do list. It is important to review your to-do list from yesterday and to create a new to-do list at the same time every day. Some people prefer to do this at night, right before they go to bed. Other people like to do it first thing in the morning when they have the energy to tackle the items on their lists. Doing it at the same time every day will help create a habit, so that your mind will begin to recall everything you need to do at the same time. This conditioning will make your to-do list more effective. You should look at your calendar for the next month when setting up your to-do list, so you can take the smaller steps you need to prepare for bigger projects.
2. Prioritize your tasks
Once you have jotted down everything you need to do, be sure to prioritize your tasks correctly. Some of them may automatically be put on the backburner, as something you need to do tomorrow or next week. Other tasks may be things that need to be dealt with immediately. As you do this you will start spending time on the most important tasks, not just the small last-minute tasks that need to be dealt with each day. Prioritizing your tasks will help you move towards your larger goals and grow your business.
3. Eliminate last minute or urgent tasks
Using your to-do list should eliminate most of your last minute tasks, because you are planning ahead. Occasional fires may still pop up from time to time, but if you are using your calendar and breaking down your projects effectively, you should be able to stop the feeling that you are just running from one emergency situation to the other. This will reduce your stress and make it easier to focus on the task at hand, which means your productivity will go up.
4. Roll your list over
There are times when you will not accomplish everything on your list. One reason you should look at your calendar a month out is so you have time to let some of the smaller tasks slide if you need to. When you write your to-do list for the day, review what you did not get done from the previous day. Some of the tasks may go up in priority because you are closer to the deadline. Additionally, tasks that you finished yesterday may create new tasks that you need to accomplish today. Reviewing previous to-do lists will help you stay focused, and complete everything on your list. Many of the to-do list programs available for your phone or computer allow you to easily rollover or reassign your tasks.
5. Use the right tools for your list
There are several to-do list apps that you can download to your smart phone, which are a great way to tackle your to-do lists. Many of them have features that let you easily schedule tasks weeks or months in advance and to move the items from one day to the next. The programs can revolutionize the way you handle your to-do list, and increase your productivity. You may also want to read books on completing to-do lists or to-do list systems. Many time management books offer systems that will help you organize your to-do lists more effectively. The trick is finding the system that works best with your workflow and personality.
About the guest author: Gwen Stewart is a business development professional and writer for Outbounding.com. Her line of work often requires she have reliable large file transfer solutions and a solid strategy for meeting tight deadlines. Any spare time she can scrape together finds her hiking, reading and enjoying the company of great friends.