Let’s face it…it’s not easy keeping track of all the things we need to do in all areas of our lives – work, home, kids, personal, errands, etc. Half the battle of managing these tasks is having a good tool to track them and following some simple rules. There are many options for tracking tools – whether you use a phone app or paper – and there is no right or wrong answer. Regardless of which you choose, here are some tips that will help you get your "to dos" done!
1. One list only. Banish sticky notes and jotting ideas on scraps of paper! The key to keeping track of everything is to put them all on one list. Yes, that will probably be a long list, but the most effective strategy is to categorize your list. For example, my list is separated into personal to do’s as well as business, home, and shopping ones. Having your list in one place means there is less chance that something important will fall through the cracks.
2. Start with a brain dump. Mental clutter is a real thing. It’s caused by all the stuff floating around in your head that you need to do. Get them out of your head and onto your list where you can address them. I guarantee you’ll feel better!
3. Break projects into smaller tasks. How do you deal with those big to-dos that are a bit more involved? Projects include a series of one-step tasks that typically take a period of time to complete. Start by breaking your projects down into manageable steps. Identify your completion date goal and work backwards to determine how to tackle your “steps” to complete the project on time. Treat these steps as any other task on your list.
Writing this article is a good example of a project. I first gathered information and then created an outline. I scheduled time to sit at my desk and write the article. I searched for art to use and edited the article. Finally, I posted it on my website and sent it to my mailing list. Over a series of days I completed these steps.
4. Prioritize your list. Usually, your to-do list can’t be accomplished in one day or even in one week, and it’s constantly evolving as you complete items and add new ones. A benefit of having your list in one place is that it’s easier to prioritize to make sure you’re spending your time on the most important things.
5. Schedule tasks on your calendar. Having a to-do list is great but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get done! The best way to get something done is to schedule it. I recommend spending a few minutes before the start of each week to revisit your to-do list and select the things you plan to accomplish during the upcoming week based on your prioritization. Block time on your calendar to accomplish these.
6. Address stagnant tasks. Do you have some things on your list seemingly forever? This is a good time to figure out what is holding you back from accomplishing it. Maybe it’s something that doesn’t really align with your priorities or goals. Maybe you don’t know how to get started. Maybe it’s something best delegated to someone else. Bottom line…it’s okay to cross it off your list. It’s probably creating anxiety so let it go if you can. If not, find out what you need to get started.
Accomplishing tasks is as much about managing your time as it is making a list. It’s one thing to say you’re going to get something done, and another to make an appointment with yourself to do it. My recommendation is to just get started as this often gives you the momentum to finish it.