Ah, the “To Do” list: a tried and true from of self-organization for millennia. We can only imagine the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt carving elaborate hieroglyphics to remind themselves to feed the sacred cat and build the pyramids.
But not all To Do Lists are created equal.
How do you know what makes your own list effective?
As it turns out, there are some tips and practices that will help stay on track and organized and keep you motivated.
As I researched this topic I found countless websites that declare the best way to write a To Do List. You can see them here, and here, and here… I could honestly go on forever. After reading and re-reading all of these resources, and more, I’ve distilled the information down to a few key points.
- Know how you work. You can write all the To Do Lists you want but if you don’t use them they aren’t effective. Only you know the way you work. If you like having an hourly schedule with every single thing mapped out for your day, do that. If you prefer to know the top 5 things that need to be accomplished, do that. There are no actual rules.
- Understand the psychology. Part of the reason that To Do Lists work for us is because we get actual gratification every time we check off a task. Did you know you also get satisfaction for simply writing down the tasks to begin with? Yes, in fact, without completing a single item that you need to accomplish you are already motivating yourself to do them by putting them down on paper. They finally become real rather than concepts.
- Maximize your morning. It is true that not everyone is a morning person but mornings can be both the most productive time of day and the most distracting. If you work in an office environment you may find that your first two hours are spent making coffee, talking with co-workers about their evenings, and checking emails from the night before. Suddenly you realize that you haven’t actually accomplished anything and it is nearly lunchtime. Don’t sacrifice this time and use it to get focused and motivated.
Are you ready to kick your buts today? Get started with your To Do List and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish!