10 productivity tips for a smarter to do list
Do you have a to do list with hundreds of items you can’t seem to get done? Each time you add another item to your list you have good intentions. But at a subconscious level, you know you’re just adding one more thing to a growing list of things that don’t get done. If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. Here are ten tips that will help you check more things off your list each day:
- Choose an app you can access on multiple devices. I’m currently using Appigo Todo while my husband favors Todoist. If you partner a lot with friends or family to get things done, you’ll love the collaborative features in Wunderlist. Or perhaps you fancy something even more social like Listography? Whatever you do, be sure to choose a tool that has a user-friendly interface on your computer, smart phone and any other devices you use regularly.
- Begin each item with one action word (a verb). This makes it easy to identify what you need to do: CALL to reschedule massage; TALK to a stranger; REPAIR flat tire on bike; LEARN how to make homemade sauerkraut.
- Break projects down into doable chunks of time. As an author, it doesn’t do me any good to have a task like “write eBook.” It makes much more sense to make this a project and then list the various tasks such as “write chapter 7” and other similar action items as subtasks of this project.
- Schedule time on your calendar to complete items with deadlines. If you have an important deadline, it’s ok to keep it visible on your to do list, but it’s even more important to make sure that you’ve blocked out ample time to complete it.
- Avoid duplication. It doesn’t make sense to put “unload dishwasher” on your to do list because you can see when the work needs to be done. The same rule applies to housework or email. When your bath mirror becomes spotted enough to bother you, clean it. If you have rules and features set up to manage your email effectively, then you’ll have visual cues in your inbox and folders to let you know when you need to work on replies.
- Tweak and customize your list until it works well for you. The best to do apps are full of features that allow you to filter and sort so that you see what you want to see when you need to see it. Adjust tabs, colors, priority levels, repeat functions and other tools regularly to be sure you’re seeing and doing the things that matter most.
- Ignore your to do list one day a week. Putting things on your to do list can give you a peace of mind that you won’t forget to do important things. But it’s also crucial to give yourself time to do things spontaneously or choose to do things that aren’t on your list.
- Review your to do list once a week. Update tasks that are partially complete, add clarity to tasks you entered on the fly, re-prioritize most important tasks for the upcoming week, and delete as many tasks as possible that are least important.
- Evaluate your overall effectiveness and productivity every month. Some people have a tendency to be very focused in their work and social ventures while others have many interests and thrive on the stimulation of new ideas. If you have the feeling that you’re never getting enough done, it may mean that you need to find ways to simplify your life and stop doing some things that aren’t important to ensure that you have enough time to do the things that are most essential. Reflect on what old habits may be holding you back and what new habits you want to establish.
- Read your mission statement every morning and every evening. If you don’t already have a mission statement, begin by writing something simple. As a writer and continuous improvement expert, my mission is to provide tips to improve people’s lives. Although it’s common to hold a number of roles at any given time, it’s important to make sure that the things you put on your to do list support your main purpose and biggest responsibilities. Knowing that you’ve accomplished your most important tasks and projects allows you to rest well with a sense of fulfillment at the end of each day.
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