Tackle your to-do list and get stuff done
It's all very well making a to-do list, but how many of can actually say that we're good at making lists, and that they actually help us to get sh*t done? The idea of a to-do list is to help you meet deadlines and achieve your goals, but sometimes making the list can be the hardest part. Some of us love lists, and you'll find our homes covered in coloured post-its and numbered, bullet pointed lists. For others, the idea of planning is alien, and you might be more likely to scribble a note on the back of your hand than actually create an organised list. Creating even a basic to-do list can help you to get those important tasks done, such as reminding you to do the laundry, go to the gym or call your mum. Because it can be hard knowing where to start when it comes to creating an effective list, we've got 10 tips to help you create and complete your own awesome to-do list!
#1. Digital or old-school?
It's up to you whether you prefer old-school pen and paper or want to create your list digitally using an app. There are plenty of apps out there to choose from - Evernote is great if you're going to be on your PC all day. But sometimes, only pen and paper will do!
#2. Two's company
Just one to-do list won't cut it - that's right, you need multiple lists in order to be super-organised! One list is for those long-term goals you'd like to achieve, such as running the London Marathon or signing up for yoga class. Then you'll need a weekly list which should include tasks like doing your food shop or tidying your home. The final list is a High Impact Tasks List (HIT), which is designed to detail all the urgent tasks you need to do today (1). You'll need to keep on top of all three lists on a daily basis and move items across from your weekly and long-term list to your HIT list as you cross things off.
#3. Learn to prioritise
Your HIT list should start with two tasks which absolutely have to be done today. This means you're going to prioritise them and you're guaranteed to get through the super-important stuff before you start with the rest of your tasks.
#4. Simplify things
Your HIT list shouldn't be miles long - nothing is guaranteed to demotivate you faster than a list with 25+ items on it; that's just unrealistic. Remember that your HIT list is for urgent tasks that need to be done today. It should have a maximum of 10 items - if it's any longer, cut it down in half and then move the rest of those tasks onto your other two lists!
#5. Start small
Right at the top of your HIT list, even before your two most important tasks, include a couple of small, simple things, like "take a shower" or "make a healthy breakfast". Ticking these off your list helps you to feel productive and motivated even at the start of the day.
#6. Make it manageable
It can be really daunting if you make your to-do list too vague. "Get work done" seems like an insurmountable task that will take forever to do. Try breaking each task down into smaller, more manageable tasks such as "Write the first page of research paper" or "Organise my files." This means you're more likely to have something you can tick off your list, giving you a sense of achievement.
#7. Include the details
Including important information on your list means you'll be able to get right down to it and get tasks done without making any excuses. For example, if you need to book tickets to a show, include the show times and booking number on your list, so you don't have to hunt for them later.
#8. Turn it into a schedule
Your list can act as a schedule, allowing you to plan your time and see how much free time you'll have left over. Add a time estimate next to each task, setting yourself a time limit. This means you're more likely to be productive as you will have goals to work towards.
#9. Plan your time wisely
Planning extra 'emergency' time into your schedule means you'll be prepared if and when things go wrong. Leaving about 15 minutes between each task on your to-do list means if a friend shows up late or your PC crashes, you won't throw your whole schedule off-course.
#10. Start afresh
Nobody likes waking up to the same old list of tasks, so create a new set of lists every morning. This means that you can keep track of what you're actually getting done and clear completed tasks off the list. Plus, it helps to re-energise you and remind you of what you're working towards today!
READ THIS NEXT: 10 Effective habits of organised people