We’ve all been there- you’re super busy, have a million things you need to get done, and you sit down to make a to do list. Have you ever sat down to make the to do list and stare at the paper for several minutes, wondering what exactly it is you need to write down? Or maybe you’ve been the person who sits down and starts writing things out and then after doing things for an hour or so, look back at your to do list and you still can’t mark anything off? Yeah, I’ve been there too.
If you are someone who isn’t even making to do lists and just go about your day doing things as they come to mind, I would challenge you to first sit down and write out everything you need to do. By doing this, you easy any anxiety you may have about what it is that needs to be done. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve been walking through my house, making mental notes and pointing to things that need to get done- those are usually not productive days.
Whether you are someone who is just starting out with the idea of writing to do lists or you are someone who does it on a regular basis, here are some tips:
Create categories for the things you need to get done
Whether you refer to it as categories or buckets, giving yourself different areas of your life that have different aspects that need to get done allows you to focus on specific tasks at different times in the day.
Color in boxes or triangles next to each task when completed
Most everyone I know crosses things off their to do list. While there is something to be said for feeling accomplished in doing this, you are not celebrating the fact that you have finished the task. By creating either a box or a triangle that can be filled in, you allow yourself to acknowledge what you’ve already accomplished and track in progress tasks by partially coloring in the box.
Being specific allows you to really see all that needs to get done for an overall task. The most specific you are on your list, the more likely you are to remember all of the different moving parts. It also helps you to feel more accomplished because you are seeing the intermediate progress, instead of just the larger end result. If things have due dates, I suggest adding them to your to do list. It will help you know which things hold the greatest priority.
Put it in order
If you put your to do list in order, you spend less time trying to figure out what to do next when you finish one task and are ready for another. I also find that you are less likely to miss important tasks due to oversight.
Make it manageable
Be realistic with what you can accomplish in a given amount of time. I usually have two different lists running simultaneously- a big list of all the different things coming up and a shorter list for the specific day. I also make each day’s list the day before so when I start the day, I am ready to dive in.
These are just a few of my favorite tips. How do you like to make a to do list?
By: Ellyse Colson