WHY KEEP A TO-DO LIST?
- It helps you take control of your time
- It gives a one-glance look at everything you want to accomplish
- Minimizes mind-clutter by keeping track of odds and ends
- Improves your memory by writing everything down
- Frees up mental "RAM" by emptying your brain of trivial items
- Helps you prioritize your activities
YOUR MASTER TO-DO LIST
- Keep a notepad nearby so you can enter items as they occur to you
- Empty all of the to-do's in your head onto a piece of paper
- Don't worry about priority, importance, or time frame for completing
- This is your "master to-do list"
- Don't try to tackle all the items on this list
- You will build your "daily to-do list" from your master list
CATEGORIZING AND PRIORITIZING
- Break your master list into meaningful categories by activity ( home maintenance, work, calls, errands, to buy, etc.)
- Break large projects into smaller individual tasks
- Assign a letter code to each item on the list ( "A" = must do; "B" = should do; "C" = could do)
- As you add or complete items, re-evaluate the priority of each
YOUR DAILY TO-DO LIST
- Limit your daily list to no more than 10 items you hope to complete
- Include no more than 2 large or difficult tasks
- Your daily list includes appointments and commitments to others
- Also include "A" items off of your master list
- If you have time, fill in the gaps with some "B" and "C" items
- Leave room for urgent items that just pop up
CREATING A "NOT-TO-DO" LIST
- Not every item on your to-do list has to be done
- The key to productivity is awareness of how you spend your time ( what you do, how long it takes, and what benefit you get)
- Create a log tracking your activities for a week
- Evaluate the time investment versus "payoff" for each activity
- How much benefit or enjoyment are you getting from each activity?
- Keep high-payoff and enjoyable activities on your to-do list
- Ask yourself if low-payoff activities need to be done at all
- If they do need to be done, do they have to be done by you?
- If they need to be done by you, could they be simplified?
TACKLING YOUR LIST
- Tasks should be completed in order of importance unless they have a specific time frame (like a meeting or class)
- Is this the best possible use of your time at the exact moment?
- Your goal is to complete all of your "A" items first then finish as many "B" and "C" items in the time available
- Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day
- Create an agenda for your daily task list
- Schedule times for completing specific activities whenever possible
- If you didn't complete a task, you had too many items on your list
- Move unfinished items to another day and re-evaluate the priority
GETTING YOUR TO-DO'S DONE
- If you procrastinate, create artificial deadlines to finish early
- Know your work style (long stretches or short bursts)
- Understand your high and low energy periods
- Plan your to-do's accordingly
- Make liberal use of memory joggers -- alarms, sticky notes, etc.
FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE
- Get your family to take on household responsibilities from your list
- Ask a co-worker for assistance with routine business tasks, and offer to help out the next time that co-worker needs a break!
- Make use of support staff (admin clerks, assistants, etc.)
- Outsource jobs to an independent contractor or freelancer