When it comes to staying organised, managing your time effectively and improving your productivity, you can’t go past a to-do list.
While we are all familiar with creating to-do lists and likely use one every day to record deadlines and remember all of our tasks, there are ways to drastically increase their effectiveness and make you more efficient.
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So how do you get more out of your to-do list?
Here are five tips to boost your productivity and increase the effectiveness of your to-do list:
1. Start your day by planning, writing and prioritising your to-do list
At the beginning of each day, allocate 5-10 minutes to sit down and plan out your day. Write down a list of all of the tasks you need to complete and then carefully prioritise by separating the urgent and important tasks from those that only seem urgent and important.
Questions like “what will make the biggest difference to my business?”, “what will generate the most income?”, “what must get done today to prevent consequences?” and “what tasks can I outsource to save more time?” will help you prioritise and manage your time better.
2. Be realistic with the number of tasks you can accomplish each day
Once you have prioritised your to-do list, it is important to set yourself a realistic number of tasks to achieve.
Personally, I set myself three to five core tasks (depending on the size of the task and how long it will take) and list them in a ‘must do today’ section of my to-do list. I keep the rest in a section called ‘would be nice to get done today’.
By doing this, you set yourself up for success and also build-in time for any unexpected tasks or events that may come up.
3. Leave your to-do list within view
Having your to-do list within view will keep you more focused, more productive and less likely to miss any tasks. Whether your to-do list is in your diary, on a notepad, on an app on your computer or smartphone, always make sure you can see it easily.
4. Include a time limit on tasks
You will no doubt have tasks that you easily get lost in, tasks that can end up being time-wasters if you’re not careful (like checking email and managing social media). To work more efficiently, get in the habit of putting time limits on tasks and setting a timer if needed. By doing so you will drastically cut down time-wasting and keep yourself focused on what needs to be achieved.
5. Keep a ‘have done’ list
The one challenge with to-do lists is that they constantly keep us focused on what we are yet to accomplish, instead of celebrating our achievements. A ‘have done’ list is great for seeing everything you have accomplished in a day, including tasks you completed that weren’t on your original to-do list. If you often get to the end of the day and feel you have accomplished nothing, a ‘have done’ list will cure you of those doubting thoughts and show you exactly what you have achieved.
It will also allow you to see where you are spending most of your time during the day and help you identify opportunities for streamlining or outsourcing to be even more effective and efficient with your time.