First off let me explain why you need an effective to-do list:
Imagine you’re at the grocery store. You reach into your pocket for your shopping list and it’s not there! Frantically your start rummaging through your purse – it’s not there either. So what do you do? Normally we just wing it and will most likely forget something that we needed.
Have you ever forgotten an appointment, or to pick up the dry cleaning, or make the car payment?
Many of us will write little notes and lists – maybe on those little sticky pads – and then we lose them. This results in us purchasing unneeded items and forgetting to do something important.
If you’re anything like me you dislike the traditional to-do lists – where everything you need to do is listed on one long big list. Just looking at it would make me tired! It definitely didn’t motivate me to accomplish anything because it was overwhelming and appeared unmanageable.
The number one key to creating an effective to-do list is to decide on a system you can live with …
– If it fits your lifestyle it will save you time and energy
– If it doesn’t it will add unneeded stress to your life
- If you like to cross things off use a date book, calendar or spiral bound notebook that travels with you
- If you like stickies then organize them on a wall calendar – or stick them in your date book
- Get a PDA and use it for all your lists, and contacts
- Create a checklist on your computer with a spreadsheet like Excel or use Google Calendar
Tips on writing Effective To-Do Lists:
- Get all the scraps of paper you have laying around and put them in one place
- Next you’ll transfer the information into your newly developed system
- Think of any and everything that you want to accomplish and things you’ve been putting off – Add them to your list
- Be sure to list your personal and family goals – this will help you stay focused and on track
- Separate the to-do list into categories: Calls to make, Things to buy, Appointments, Errands, Goals etc
- List each to-do item in its category
- Prioritize to-do items by giving them a time limit – Does it need to be done within a day, a week, a month, 3 months or a year?
- Check off items once completed. You may want to highlight them, for easy reference of all that you have accomplished.
Revisit your to-do list regularly; be sure to continually update the time limit. Don’t put it under a year and then leave itthere forever. You’ll want to keep it active by placing it under 3 months then 1 month and finally on your weekly list.
On a weekly basis, you’ll want to create a general list stating what items you would like to accomplish in the upcoming week. Be sure to include some long term items on your list.
Every night you’ll want to develop a to-do list for the next day. Be sure to make time for daily tasks such as taking the kids to school or cooking dinner. Writing your to-do list the night before helps you go to sleep with a clear mind.
Nightly, mark off the items you completed that day from your weekly list.
Here are some additional tips for creating effective to-do lists:
- Keep a running list of groceries needed by putting a clipboard or magnetic board on your refrigerator. Have family members write down items that are needed.
- Get a cork-board or magnetic calendar and put it in a place that the entire family can access. Write down family outings, chores, and things that need to be done such as changing the light bulbs or the smoke alarm.
- Keep a list of continuous activities on your to-do list – such as losing weight, staying organized or saving for your family vacation. Refer to it often and keep working towards your goals.
- Know that “life happens”. There will be times that you are unable to accomplish everything on your list – perhaps even nothing.
- Don’t make your daily schedule so tight that you can’t add in a phone call from a loved one, or take time to play with your kids – or listen to them excitedly chatting about their day, or going on a spontaneous date with your spouse.
- Be sure to make time for yourself on a daily basis. Taking time out will keep you going and give you the energy needed to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
Try to get out of the habit of writing things down on bits of paper. Once lost, you’ll be hard pressed to remember what you wrote down.
Writing effective to-do lists are vital tools which, when used properly, can allow you to accomplish tasks you have schedule for the day, remove the stress, and keep everything on track.