How to Make an Effective To-Do List

With the busy lifestyles that everyone has today, every second counts. No one wants to waste precious time considering the fact that there are plenty of things to do every single day. This is the reason to-do lists came to be. A to-do list is all about control and focus. It gives you more control over the things you consider important, whether it is your job or your personal life. It is a very effective time management and productivity tool that keeps you focused on your goals.

If you do not have your own to-do list, chances are you are helping others work on theirs. Thanks to you they were able to accomplish what they set out to do, while you just let the day or week pass you by and your own goals are on the wayside, neglected, unaccomplished. It is like you gave way to other people’s priorities by giving up on your own. However, if you do have your own to-do list or are only starting one today you are proving to yourself and others around you that you are a goal-oriented person and you are in control.
The question is, how do you make a to-do list and how can you make it work for you?

Keep Your List Nearby

It is important to remember that when you start a to-do list, you are making a commitment. You can tell yourself, I am taking control of my time and in the process I am taking control over my life. Therefore, I will keep this list with me all the time. I will not leave it at home or misplace it. Once you put your mind into it, you are beginning to transform yourself into a person who is driven.

You are avoiding the mistake that others make and that is not having any list at all. If you cannot bring the list with you everywhere you go, be sure to put it in a place that is hard to miss.

Write Down Nearly Everything

You are going to need time for this so be patient. It is only normal to forget a task when it is not written down. Start by writing all the things that you want to accomplish for the day or the week. If possible, start working on the list the night before. This will help you start your day with your goals in view. Imagine waking up to a well laid out plan as the tasks are already on your mind. It keeps you going and keeps you focused.

Be specific. Write down every single task that you want to do. Do not eliminate anything yet; you can do that later. Just write everything down for now.

List out the steps. For every task, figure out every step that has to be taken to get it done and put them on paper.

Set Time Goals for Every Task

There is no need to be exact right down to the seconds. Just set an estimate as to how long it would take to accomplish the task. This part will challenge your time management skills. Once you have started working on the list, you will also discover your capabilities and limitations.

Organize the List

Now look at all the things you wrote on the piece of paper. Organize them by separating the tasks for the home or family from those that are work or business related. Make it concise yet simple so that you will not panic when you see the list again.

Rank the List

Break the list further down by ranking them according to priority. How important is the task? Does it need to be done today? When you are done, you will see the urgent and important tasks. Put the urgent and important ones on top. This should be the order of the list.

Write Down the Fun Things as Well

You don’t have to take that to-do list too seriously. As mentioned earlier, add your tasks for the home and family. If there are activities at work that are fun to do, highlight them to remind yourself that the list is not all about serious, work-related tasks. The fun things remind you that you are a human being, not a robot that just works through the list.

Make Time-Centric Lists

Daily and weekly to-do lists are reflections of your short-term plans while monthly and yearly lists represent your long-term goals. Once you master this activity, you will realize that they all work together to keep you going in the right direction. This part is about focus and foresight.

Break It Down Using Subgroups

The purpose of a subgroup in this situation is still effective time management. Take a look at the tasks you have organized and prioritized. You have meetings, conferences, phone calls, emails. While you are at the meeting for example, think of something else that you can accomplish while you are in there, like talk to a colleague during the break about an issue. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish in just one event or occasion.

Make Your List Realistic To Accomplish

Once again, you have to be realistic. You know very well about your own limitations so do not push yourself too far. A to-do list may give you more control over your productivity on any given day or week but this does not mean that you have power over everything. Taking the all-or-nothing attitude towards your list will only give you unnecessary stress. Expect that not everything on the list will be crossed out and that is fine. You can always reschedule or find out why it happened without blaming yourself. And always ask yourself this every time you are frustrated: Is it really under your control?

To-do lists can help just about anyone who wants to make the most of the time. All that is needed is to prepare them early and to stick to them as much as possible. In fact, to do lists are easier to make nowadays because there are programs or software for your computer and there are plenty of good apps for your smartphone or tablet. Whether your list is on paper, computer or mobile device, it could help you achieve success.