Just when you think you're ready to shift into a more productive groove at work, Procrastination enters the room. You two decide to hang out, which means your to-do pile grows longer.
The next day, Chaos, a bigheaded cousin of Procrastination, arrives. Didn’t see that coming, did you?
So now, as work deadlines loom, you have to take time away from your tasks to deal with an emergency. Maybe this is proof that from this point on, you need a well-organized to-do list and the will to execute it.
As far as your will is concerned—well, that’s a personal issue only you can master. But there’s help available in creating a winning to-do list that can keep you on track. Learn how to better manage your to-do lists by following these eight guidelines.
Select a medium that works best for you. There are many digital apps to choose from, including Wunderlist, Any.do and todoist that create personal to-do lists. Also, consider the old-fashioned option of writing your goals down. A study by psychological scientists at UCLA found the act of writing can help you better remember.
Create a detailed master list. Once you have the big picture of all tasks that must be completed, divvy items up according to various deadlines. List duties that must be finished today, within the next week and monthly. Post these multiple lists for easy viewing and accountability.
Select a specific, manageable and meaningful number of tasks. Be realistic. Avoid adding easy-to-achieve items to make you feel productive. Make sure you can cross off all items for the day by the end of the day.
Assign a time frame and categorize each item. It’s easier to meet present and future deadlines when you track the amount of time and effort it takes to complete a task. Sort tasks into easy and hard days to give yourself a break and reduce stress.
Factor in flexibility. Add 10 or 15 minutes of free time to your scheduled items to accommodate phone calls that run late, last-minute meetings or that unpredictable thing called life.
Add fun to-do items. Be sure to schedule time to pursue an activity that makes you feel good or stokes your creativity.
Review and assess completed action items. Why? It feels good and may motivate you to keep plugging through your lists. Take inspiration wherever you can find it, OK?
Schedule time to update your list. Create a new one daily. Doing so allows you to focus on and add new priorities.
Consider your to-do list a navigational tool to help you move forward. Execute it well and you may feel better about yourself during the journey. Just leave Procrastination, who gives you a head start to nowhere, in the dust.