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  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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?


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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

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