Between work, working out, socializing, and other real-life obligations, achieving our goals and reaching deadlines is almost always harder than it seems. Creating an efficient to-do list is a feat in itself. And when you’ve mustered strength to actually make one, you still find yourself failing to complete all the tasks? Is it the lack of motivation or you’re making a wrong to-do list? What sorcery will help you create an efficient to-do list that will make you achieve your work in time?
A very useful tool to get organized and improve focus is to create such a list that will help you achieve your deadlines. But majority of the people that use the to-do list are using it in an efficient manner. Before getting to the tips to help you create an efficient to-do list, first
How The To-Do list Came To Be?
Charles Schwab, a steel magnate, was the earliest implementer of To-Do lists in workplace. He was obsessed with output and economic efficiency. He was among the first Americans to introduce a time-saving workflow process called “Taylorism” in his factories, promising rewards for his employees who would increase their productivity. Then, Ivy Lee, considered as the founder of the modern public relations, met with Schwab and suggested the following:
Each employee should write down six tasks every day, rank them in order of their priority, from highest to lowest, and immediately get to work on the first task. They should continue making their way down their lists, with any unfinished tasks simply moving onto the next day’s list.
After 90 days of list-making and monitoring, Schwab noticed productivity dramatically improved by three-folds. And since then, to-do lists have become a daily necessity to modern life.
How to Create an Efficient To-Do List that actually works?
To-Do lists seem pretty straightforward: a list of things we plan to accomplish during any given day or week. But, many times, we balloon to unrealistic levels: have a lot of plans and tasks pinned down on to us, and we end up feeling overwhelmed and ineffective. then follows procrastination. Lists can only get you either a procrastinating machine or a productivity beast, it depends on how you make use of it.
Here are the tips that you will always need the most while building a To-Do list that actually gets the best out of you.
- Quality over Quantity. People are quick to associate self-worth by checking on how many item they check off their to-do list. Thinking completing a lot of tasks in one days must mean a job well done, and therefore, they are a good enough person. While we may validate ourselves, it also means we’re likely to waste our time on menial, low impact, easy-to-complete tasks just to have a sense of accomplishment. This is only make us less effective in our daily lives over time.
- Set Simple, Realistic Goals. Many have the tendency to create a very long to-do list that they can’t even complete in a single day. And when they fail on completing the tasks, they feel bad. Discouraged. Making such an unrealistic list is only setting yourself up to fail. Every time you think about a task on your to-do list that hasn’t been completed will drain your energy and mental stamina. Long lists will also frighten you at the day’s beginning and ends up being nothing more than a frustration at the end of the day. Make sure those tasks are important and would be given with sufficient time of your day to it. If you have no time for an additional task, no point in filling up your daily to-do list with inadequacy and frustration. Set yourself realistic tasks and realistic number of goals per day, don’t overdo it. It does not matter is it’s a short list of 2-3 tasks. Sometimes small is big and always quality over quantity.
- Write your To-Do List the Night Before. It will give your time to reflect on your task, prioritize them and help you start the day with clarity.
- Use Sections. The most common design would be a two-column list as used by Robert C. Pozen, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and Brookings Institution. On the left, he makes a chronological list of things that need to be done such as meetings and conferences. On the right, he writes what he hopes to achieve during those events.
- Write your Tasks down as an Action. Make sure your list is detailed as possible; list all the important details like phone numbers, emails, or names in them to avoid confusion later. For example, instead of “Learn French Online” try “Learn French at <name of the website> for all class offerings”. It will help you achieve the next step in your quest to creating a do-able to-do list efficiently.
- Time Management. The next most important thing you need to take care of is the amount of time you cater to each task. Now that you know what tasks you need to perform, look into the amount of time required to accomplish those tasks. Once you carefully assess your daily time-spending routine, you will get a clear idea of the exact amount of time that you are actually left with, for performing the tasks on your to-do list. You can also add a time estimate next to each task to get you a basic idea of the amount of time that you’re going to be needing to complete those tasks. It will help to turn the to-do list into a kind of schedule with specific times and places. For example: Email the client about the next project 9-10 am.
- View One Task at a Time. Focusing on your to-do list one task at a time will help boost your productivity. After the completion of a task just move on and forget about later tasks and concentrate on the immediate one. Because it is very easy for the subconscious mind of ours to concoct unnecessary nagging feelings about a task left unfinished. This is Ziegarnik effect. Remember. Focus.
- Keep it Flexible. You never know what work is going to pop-up between the tasks you have planned. So, keep your to-do list flexible. A “cushion time” of 15 minutes in between tasks will allow you some time for unexpected tasks.
- Experiment. Keep Track. Update. Making an efficient to-do list is nothing less that an art. You make it everyday, understand what works for you because something that might work for you might not work for someone else and vice-versa and improve. Keep practicing and make tweaks as per your life and get more productive.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there onto a to-do list now Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?
Tell us how you find To-Do lists? An effective tool or a waste of time? Buzz us your experiences and thoughts on the comments section below.