Do you ever feel like your To-Do list is weighing you down instead of motivating you to get things done?
Have you ever started a To-Do list but quickly became overwhelmed by how much you have to do?
If your answer is yes - it's time to adjust your To-Do list approach!
Choose Your Medium
Paper: Studies show that putting pen to paper leads to better retention of information, and even reduces stress.
Whiteboard: Versatility is the word! Play around with sticky notes, markers, or even shuffle around paper with magnets.
App: If you're always on the move and your laptop never leaves your sight, this one's for you.
Anything that feels right for you!
For best results:
Choose a medium that allows you to be creative and motivates you to both engage with your To-Do list, and tackle the tasks on it.
If you choose to write out your list on paper, you can use colorful stickers, sticky notes, and markers.
Create Multiple Lists
Master Goal List: Lay out your long-term goals and projects, starting a week from now, and ending in about 180 days.
Weekly Project List: Anything that needs to happen within the next 7 days goes here.
Daily To-Do List: Only the 3-5 most important tasks from your weekly list earn a spot.
For best results:
Try to keep all of your lists in one place, so that you can navigate between the lists easily, move tasks across them, and keep track of everything!
If your medium of choice is paper, take out a brand new notebook and dedicate it to all of your lists, and only your lists.
Limit Your Daily Tasks
Pick only 3-5 tasks per day. Prioritize them:
Tasks 1-3: Your biggest, most important, or time consuming tasks for the day.
Set out to complete these tasks as early on in the day as possible.
Tasks 4-5: Up to 2 additional lower priority tasks that would be nice to complete today, but that you don't have to.
Delilah has a big project at work, due in a month. Which list should she pencil it in to?
Differentiate Between Goals, Objectives, And Tasks
The greatest benefit of keeping multiple lists is that you can sort them between your goals, objectives, and tasks.
All three serve different purposes, and together, make for one tidy and relaxed mind!
Goals: big-picture, long-term achievements and desired outcomes.
For example: "Learn to play the guitar"
Write these in your Master Goals List.
Objectives: quantifiable steps on the way to achieving your goal.
For example: "Play Chords A,B,C"
Write these on your Weekly Projects List.
Tasks: actions that you take to reach your objectives.
For example: "Practice guitar for one hour today"
Add tasks to your Daily To-Do list.
Review, Revise, Organize
Carve out a little bit of time every weekend to sit with your lists.
Review the week that just ended and ask yourself:
How productive were you?
Did you set yourself up for success by designating realistic, manageable tasks one day at a time?
If so, great job! Keep up the good work.
If not, that's ok. You are the only one who knows what works best for you, and you learn as you go.
After you review (and possibly revise), take everything that you learned, and organize your lists for a successful, brand new week ahead.
"Two Minute Rule": you will encounter curve balls and unexpected tasks . If the incoming task is something that will take two minutes or less, stop everything. Do it now.
Stay flexible, and avoid procrastinating.
Calendarize: Integrate your daily To-Do list into your calendar or planner every day. You wouldn't cancel a work meeting or a doctor's appointment at the last minute, right?
Keep your commitment to yourself and don't cancel your To-Do.
Time Blocking and Color Coding: Batch similar tasks into a fixed period of time, block it out in your calendar, and focus on the task at hand.
If you're the visual type, you can also color-code blocks to differentiate types of commitments. For Example:
personal - pink
work - green
family - yellow
You are now ready to tackle the day, week, and upcoming months, and are on the way to becoming your most productive self.
Just remember: you are the only one who knows what works for you, so:
Experiment with different mediums and methods
Try out different kinds and/or multiple lists
Prioritize by separating goals, objectives, and tasks
Review and re-organize your lists and tasks as often as you need
Have fun with it and be kind to yourself when things don't go as planned
One final pro tip: Include a special "Me Time" task on your daily To-Do list. Take an hour or even a few minutes to yourself and do something that makes you feel good and lights your fire!