Many business experts counsel people to make to-do lists to help them manage their time. And to-do lists are very popular among employees. The problem, however, is that not many people know how to put a to-do list together so that they get the most out of it, so that it is the most effective in helping the person manage his or her time. Here are a few tips on putting together a to-do list that can really work for you.
1. Make more than one list.
This helps you separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, letting you see at a glance what the urgent and important things are. You should first make a master list, one that has everything you want to get done on it.
Then you want to make other lists. One, for example, could be for projects, things you need to get done within the next week. Another could be your important stuff list, the major things you need to get done immediately. Then, each day you move things from your master list to the other lists.
2. Keep it manageable
A very long list isn’t going to do you much good. It may just give you a feeling of helplessness, like how are you going to get all of this done? Ideally, your list shouldn’t have more than 10 tasks on it.
Make sure at least the first two task on your list are the most important for you to get done. Then, if you have time, you can prioritize tasks from most to least important.
4. Start slow
To get some momentum going, you may want to start off doing some very simple and easy tasks before you tackle the most important stuff. These are things that will only take you a few minutes to do.
5. Take small steps
If you have a big project to do, cut it down into small steps, tasks that you can achieve in one continuous block of time. So, you would not write, “finish project,” but rather something like, “make sales presentation.”
6. Be concrete and precise.
In other words, whatever goes on your list should be something that you can take action to accomplish, that you can do in one continuous time period, and something that you do not need help to do.
So, again if you have a big project to do, something that you need help with, break it down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish yourself, like putting together a Powerpoint presentation.
7. Be complete
For each item on the list include as much information as possible that will help you to get the task finished. For example, if it is making a phone call, include the phone number, so you don’t have to go hunting for it.
Also, next to each item put an estimate of how long it will take you to do it.
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