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4 Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists Work for You

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'd be so lost without my daily to-do list. In fact, it's an obsession really. I've even admitted to the fact that sometimes I've written down tasks after I've completed them, just so I can enjoy the satisfaction of crossing it off.  (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.....)

Anyhow, as much as I think lists are important in being efficient & focused, I know that sometimes the lists can lose their way and become more of a trivial habit or simply avoided all together. Because of that, I've brainstormed ways we can put our to-do lists back to work....essentially making them work for us again.
{notepad from modern emotive}

1. Make it Meaningful:  A list can serve many different purposes, it's helpful to identify which one(s) works for each of us. A list can help plan out the day, clear your mind, make it easier to sleep before going to bed, provide motivation, help refocus during the day....deciding this will make it easier how you'll make your list.  I think recognizing a to-do list isn't a one size fits all approach is really helpful. I write my list very first thing in the morning, this helps me prepare for the day. Then when I get side-tracked throughout the day, I check my list to refocus.  For me, it's also a bit of motivation....crossing off a task off is a little bit of celebration!

2. Make it a Habit: After we figure out how we're going to use our list, let's make it a habit to follow through. For example, I know some people create a list right before bed to clear their mind and prepare for the morning...so setting the notepad someplace that would make it easy to accomplish this, ensuring it gets done.  Sometimes we avoid the easiest most obvious changes! 

3. Make it Manageable: Creating a list with tasks that you both need & hope to get done can easily become a super long assortment of various activities that even superwoman couldn't complete in a day. Instead, include the most important items...or perhaps delineate your list by priority or topic.  When lists become unmanageable we're more than likely to avoid or start to detest them. 

4. Make Multiples: If you're someone who struggles with separating life from work or some other aspect, than making several different lists can be helpful. Obviously, for some this would be too much...but it can offer an important distinction between which types of tasks you're hoping to achieve. I have many lists going at one time; a daily shop list, a separate monthly page, a blog post list, weekly house list, and on the weekends I create a plan for our family (it's not as controlling as it sounds, but helps us all be one the same page and ensures we spend quality time together, really!) 

Do you have any suggestions to add? 
{ps. I also know there are non-list takers out there who get it all done fabulously....I am intrigued by this bunch, tell me if this is you!}


craftystaci.com said...

I'm a life long list maker and I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who adds finished tasks to my list so I can cross them off!

Sarah Pecorino said...

I'm a compulsive procrastinator by nature. I have just recently left my full time job to stay home with my son and focus my creative energy on my illustration business, so I am trying hard to implement using lists since when I do utilize them I feel so much more organized and aware of myself. My old boss taught me to use check boxes next to each task and fill the box in with a slash if it has been started, half filled if it's in progress or half finished, and fill it in when actually done. It's a great feeling to see a page of filled in squares!

Allisa Jacobs said...

Thanks so much for the tips- brilliant!

and glad to hear I'm not the only one crossing off already completed tasks :)