Create A To-Do List That Works

Do you work from a daily to-do list or do you have a 'rolling', never-ending to-do list?

According to @BBCBreakfast this morning - people who write lists and set goals are more likely to achieve their objectives and get more done.

Well, we already know this - it's well known and oft quoted.  To-do lists, checklists or however you like to organise your work, are essential tools to make sense out of the chaos of our busy lives.

Using and writing to-do lists is great but you need to have one that works.

Keep them short - if there's too much on your daily list, you'll feel overwhelmed.  Pick 5-10 tasks that you'll be able to action today.

Prioritise them - not every task has the same importance, so use numbers, letters or colours to prioritise the items on your list and make sure you do the high priority ones first.  Otherwise you'll cherry-pick the 'nice' tasks and leave the more difficult ones, even though they may be more important.

Group similar tasks together and tackle them at the same time - like phone calls, email, admin or updating your finances.  It's quicker and more efficient.

Create intelligent lists.  Don't just list out tasks but break them down in to manageable tasks.  'Complete Project X' - may be a series of tasks and take several days but 'arrange meeting with Y' may be the first step and take just a few minutes.  Add completion dates and timings to better organise your tasks.  You might also want to include a status if other people are involved.  Spreadsheets are a great way to plan your activity.

Review your lists - check your list regularly during the day to stay focused, act as a reminder and keep you on track.  At the end of the day - cross off what you've completed and add what's still to be done to the following day.

Cull your lists regularly - quite often the more trivial items will fall off the end of the list.  Relate your daily tasks to your goals and objectives - where do they fit in?

Create a master list - these are place holders or tasks that you'd like to do 'some day' or in the near future but aren't yet a priority or something you need to focus on right now, so don't clutter up your list.

Set aside time every now and then to tackle all those little tasks you never quite get round to but you know won't actually take long when you do.  An hour's focused action can enable you to tick off quite a few of those tasks.  (A Focus Day is a great way to tackling to-do lists).

Use your to-do list as part of your daily planning.

If you're struggling with your lists give me a call and I'll help you make sense of them.

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