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How to Make the Best of Your To-Do List!

How do you keep track of deadlines, appointments, meetings, and all things life? Do you wing it and hope for the best or are you a to-do list kind of person? For me, I work best with to-do lists. I like to see all the things I need to finish and the satisfaction of crossing items off is like no other. Even with Apps like ClickUp and Asana (which we use), I still love a good ol’fashion pen-and-paper to list.

Over the years, I’ve seemingly perfected my to-do list to make it more efficient. How?


Well, here’s my top 5 tips for making a productive to-do list:

 

1. Categorize your tasks.

When starting my to do list, I write things down in different categories, such as “work tasks” (deadlines and meetings, things I want to accomplish), “house tasks” (like remembering to switch laundry from the washer to dryer, ordering groceries, etc), “kid tasks” (homework or other school related tasks for the kids, sign them up for dance class, etc.) and “other life stuff” (returning phone calls, making appointments, picking up a birthday gift, etc). Knowing which category the tasks belong in makes it easier to know where to start. 

2. Set start dates and deadlines.

My to-do lists are usually done on a weekly basis. I find anything longer starts to overwhelm me. When I review my tasks, I schedule a day I’m going to start and finish. Some tasks, such as making an appointment, might only need one day. Other tasks like writing a blog may mean I start on Tuesday and want it finished by Thursday. Doing this helps me prioritize what I should be working on and makes me more productive because I know exactly what to work on when I sit down. It also holds me accountable to complete the tasks and it reminds me that I have a set day to do a set task.

3. Colour Coordinate.

You can choose to colour coordinate it however works for you. I usually write each category in a different colour to separate them. Then I write all my start dates and deadlines in red. I cross everything out in black. I know it seems silly, but having a visually appealing to-do list makes me happy, and that in turn, makes me more motivated and productive. Plus, it keeps things organized.

4. Keep it close.

Keep your to-do list somewhere you can see it often. Maybe it’s on your fridge, maybe it’s on your desk, maybe it’s taped to the wall. Wherever you frequent, put it there. Keeping it visible will remind you it’s there and tasks are waiting to be completed. Pro tip: keep a pen close to it too, then you can add things as they come up and cross things off the list as they’re completed.

5. Give yourself grace.

So, you call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment and they’re closed. Now what? That’s okay. Take note of your doctor’s hours and set your deadline for a day (and time) that they’ll be open. Change the deadline on your to-do list and move on to the next tasks for the day.

Your to-do list should set you up for success. Try to make your to-do list realistic with how many tasks you can complete and don’t over schedule yourself. That will only lead you to bumping tasks to the next day and re-working deadlines, which will leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

You’ll feel like you can never complete your to-do list because it’s just too much. It’s better to under-schedule, complete the daily tasks, and then get a head start on the next day.  The satisfaction of completing all your daily tasks will give you momentum to continue on to the next day. If you finish all your tasks for the day, give yourself a pat on the back. As a reward, you can either binge watch your favourite Netflix show, spend some extra time with your family and friends, have some me-time, or get a head start on tomorrow’s tasks.

Remember, your to-do list should serve you, motivate you, and help you be more productive.

Your to-do list should set you up for success. Try to make your to-do list realistic with how many tasks you can complete and don’t over schedule yourself. That will only lead you to bumping tasks to the next day and re-working deadlines, which will leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

You’ll feel like you can never complete your to-do list because it’s just too much. It’s better to under-schedule, complete the daily tasks, and then get a head start on the next day.  The satisfaction of completing all your daily tasks will give you momentum to continue on to the next day. If you finish all your tasks for the day, give yourself a pat on the back. As a reward, you can either binge watch your favourite Netflix show, spend some extra time with your family and friends, have some me-time, or get a head start on tomorrow’s tasks.

Remember, your to-do list should serve you, motivate you, and help you be more productive.

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