How to Make To-Do Lists Work For You and Get Things Done
When you’re overwhelmed with so much stuff to do, one of the ways most people turn to organize their life is the to-do list. However, it can be counterproductive when you end up keeping on chasing these lists and not knowing how to optimize its use. It will not only be a big waste of time, but it can also be a source of stress in your workplace.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to to-do lists is focusing too much on the goals. Even smart people fall prey to this. People tend to forget to step back and recalibrate their focus. Those who attempt to do so often face distractions and scattered thoughts.
To maintain your focus, productivity guru David Allen recommends taking the time to know the right things to do versus the things that are not worth your time. He suggests adopting the “GTD” or Getting Things Done method. According to Allen, it has helped millions of people to clear their minds, sharpen their focus, and accomplish more with elegance and ease.
First things first: jot down all the things that consume your thoughts and attention. All those things that have been hovering on your mind; the need-tos, coulds, shoulds, ought-tos, and might-want-tos. These may be in the form of emails, paper piles, meeting notes, and scattered sticky notes just waiting to be handled.
After identifying these tasks, there’s no need to address them right away. Just gather all of them in one place. You can organize these in a variety of ways: through labeled trays, smartphone apps, emailing yourself, and voice reminders. After choosing a tool, make it a part of your daily life.
After collating the tasks, process each of them and ask yourself if these are actionable. If yes, determine what to do next. Do it now if it can be done in less than two minutes. But if not, try to delegate it or schedule it for later. If it’s not actionable, discard it or store it for “someday”.
For this step, it’s all about engagement. It can be a bit tiring to do since it requires cognitive effort and people often avoid it by occupying themselves with other things. But if you skip this step, you can’t really achieve stress-free productivity.
For tasks that you want to do later, store and organize them to specific lists: list of one-off actions, list of project actions, and a calendar.
The one-off action list is composed of tasks that require only one step to complete. These can include basic errands like buying your vitamins or sending an RSVP email. Tasks that require more than one step belongs to the list of project actions. Making a sales pitch deck and doing a price comparison both fall under this category. As for the calendar, this is for tasks that have a specific time, location, and date involved.
Simmer down and take time to reflect and get caught up with the tasks that need to be done. This is a way for you to stay on top of things. Make this habit a part of your regular schedule by frequently looking over your lists to determine what you should do next.
Then, assess yourself if you’re making progress. Where should you adjust your priorities and what kind of system is working for you? What needs to be done to improve the way you handle things?
It’s all about taking the right actions for you to finish your work with confidence. Choose what needs to be done at that specific moment. As you do, try to evaluate the criteria that are limiting your capability to do tasks at that point in time:
Whether you are in the office or on a flight to a business trip, identify the restrictions or limitations of your current situation. Through that, you can then identify which tasks you can do with what you have at that moment.
What tasks you can do now is also dependent on your time availability. If you have a meeting in 15 minutes, this, of course, prevents you from starting a time-consuming task.
People tend to have fluctuating energy levels throughout the day. Identify which time of day you are most active and schedule more demanding tasks during that time. Choose those that match your energy level. If you feel that your energy is low, then do the easier tasks. You can also take a breather and go for a walk to refresh your mind.
With the time and energy you have, identify which task is the most pressing thing that you can do at that given moment.
More in Career
Writing a Kick-Ass Business Plan
When starting a business, the first and foremost thing you’d require is a business plan. A business plan acts as a...January 14, 2021
Tried and Tested Job Tips for 2021
Coronavirus has gobbled up every ounce of normalcy that was ever present in the world. Your Christmas dinner became a solemn...January 13, 2021
Here’s All You Need to Know About Job Hunting During The Pandemic
From patience to generosity, from looking out for each other to standing against racism, 2020 has taught us a lot. But...January 12, 2021
Managing an Engineering Career During a Pandemic
Undoubtedly, 2020 was a less than ideal year for everyone alike. With the world engulfed in a pandemic, businesses swinging between...January 12, 2021
Dreaming of Owning a New Gas-powered Car in Massachusetts? Do It Before 2035!
Today, millions of people drive gas-fueled vehicles, but very few understand the ill-impact of the emissions from them. It is in...January 7, 2021
Career Expert Lists 6 Things You Must Not Say at a Job Interview
You can never know what’s going on in the interviewer’s mind when you walk into the interview room. Everything you say...January 4, 2021
5 Tips On How to Successfully Change Your Career in 2021
Let’s face it, 2020 has been hard on everyone, with millions stuck to deal with unforeseen financial troubles. Global industries are...January 4, 2021
Civil Leaders Offer Advice on How to Advance Your Career
The climb up is never smooth or easy. After all, there is a lot of competition, with everyone coveting prestige, power,...December 31, 2020
Here’s How You Can Use Both Your Strengths and Weaknesses to Your Advantage at the Next Interview
Everyone wants to believe that they are invincible. The reality, however, is always in much contrast to it. Obviously, you are...December 30, 2020