How to Create an Effective To Do List

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Many people use to do lists, they get in every morning and scribble down a hundred things that they want to get done for the day. I have seen some people make a to-do list and then not use it at all, they just close their notebooks and work on what comes their way.

Other people create to-do lists and begin to work on them and get distracted half way, or they focus on the things that they like to do versus the things that they need to do. Yet another lot gets so discouraged looking at all the items on their list that they procrastinate and end up doing nothing productive at all.

In this podcast we are going to focus on six ways that you can make your to do list more effective, which in turn will help you become more productive at work.

You probably need at least 2 lists (not one)

  • Create a new daily list every day
  • Use ‘triage’ to prioritise your tasks
  • Separate professional and personal
  • Don’t try and do too much
  • Review and revise your list every couple of hours

1. You probably need at least 2 lists (not one)

The truth is that you could probably work better with more than one list. You can have one for home and one for work, and even at work you can segregate them into two lists, one that deals with short-term goals and one that focuses on long-term goals.

You can even have separate lists for bigger projects which allows you to keep track of the different tasks that need to be done to accomplish a big goal or project. Many people think a to do list is something that needs to be started every morning and ended each evening and needs to include everything for that day, change the way you think about a to do list and it becomes a powerful tool for you to use in  order to become more productive..

2. Create a new daily list every day

While you can have multiple to-do lists for projects and different types of goals, you also need to create a new to do list each day. You can put down items from your other lists on to this daily list as well as new items that need to be accomplished for the day. When you complete an item, cross it off your list, and at the end of the day look at what’s left. Move items you still need to complete to the to do list for the next day and leave off items that are not important any more.

3. Use ‘triage’ to prioritise your tasks

At war the principle of triage involves dividing patients into three groups:

1) those who will die anyway whether they receive medical attention or not,

2) those who will survive anyway whether they receive medical attention or not, and

3) those who will survive only if they receive timely medical attention.

You can also use this principle with tasks on your to do list and divide them into three categories. Projects that will fail to have a significant impact regardless of if you do them or not, projects that will succeed if you do them or not, and projects that will have a significant impact if you do them in time. Then focus on the third category of projects in order to get the most out of your time..

When making your to do list, don’t mix your professional and personal tasks, else it will  become very hard to keep track of it all and it may overwhelm you as well. It’s better to maintain two separate to do lists and tackle each sphere of your life separately rather than trying to do it all together.

5. Don’t try and do too much

It’s a good idea to keep in mind the 80/20 rule, which is that 20% of the tasks on your to do list will take 80% of your time, so don’t aim to do too much, keeping in mind that you only will manage to complete only 30 – 40% of your to do list each day.