It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have a lot on your plate. Between work responsibilities and personal obligations, life can get stressful, and it’s even more stressful when you forget something important. By creating organised to-do lists, you can prioritise the things you need to do, keep track of what still needs to be finished, and feel productive and prepared in all areas of your life.
Write down everything when you remember it
It’s better to write something down and mark it as complete later than to forget what you wanted to do in the first place. Sometimes we remember the things we need to do when we’re not at our computer or in front of our list. A great way to get around this is to use post-it notes, the notes app on your phone, a to-do list app, or a voice reminder. You’re not perfect, and you’re not going to remember everything when you want to. Reducing your reliance on your memory makes life easier for your future self.
Don’t clog up your list
Your to-do list is not the place to store thoughts or goals. Those details are important to capture, but if you keep everything in one list, your important work might get lost or buried. Instead, aim to capture those items in a project management tool or a separate notebook. That way, you still have access to all of your one-off thoughts and important goals, without cluttering your to-do list.
For example, “Be healthy” might be a great goal that you are trying to achieve, but it doesn’t belong on your to-do list. If you want to include how you’re going to be healthy as a part of your to-do list, include it as an item that is actionable, such as “Go for a run”.
Verbs first, details later
Verbs are great. They are “doing” words, which is why it helps to start off your to-do tasks with a verb. While this isn’t a make-or-break rule, starting to-dos with a verb will help you know exactly what you need to do for each to-do list task.
For example, the to-do “doctor’s appointment” doesn’t tell you much. If you add “schedule” to the front of the to-do task, all of a sudden, the to-do is actionable and clear: Schedule doctor’s appointment. To-do lists with verb titles give you at-a-glance insight into what’s on your plate and how long it will take.
Prioritise your tasks
In order to make sure you get the right work done on time, it’s important to know which of your to-dos are most important. Whether you put the most important to-dos at the top of a handwritten list or use custom tags to flag priority in an app, make sure you have visibility into your critical work, so you don’t miss anything.
That isn’t to say you have to do your most important work first. Sometimes, starting the day off with an easy task is the best way to get the ball rolling and boost your mood. Even if you don’t do your high priority work first, make sure you know what you need to do before the day is out.
Nip the stragglers in the bud
We all have those tasks that were due last week that we still haven’t gotten around to doing yet. But if you notice those tasks, ask yourself why they haven’t been done. What’s keeping you from them? Do you need to reprioritise them, or delegate them to someone else? Is there something about the task that you don’t understand what’s holding you back? Knowing why you’re delaying can help you be more efficient and nip those stragglers in the bud.