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NEW! - Keywords For This Page:   Tasks / To-Do's - Reminders - Delegation

Creating A To-Do List


Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


6 REASONS TO KEEP A TO-DO LIST

  • can help you take control of your time
  • 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

BUILDING A MASTER TO-DO LIST

  • 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

CATEGORIZING AND PRIORITIZING

  • 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
  • prioritize items in each category by letter ("A" then "B" then "C")

DAILY TO-DO LIST

  • 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

DEVELOPING A NOT-TO-DO LIST

  • 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 time 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?

HOW TO TACKLE YOUR LIST

  • 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

MAKING SURE YOUR ACTION ITEMS GET DONE

  • 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.

OTHER ALTERNATIVES

  • 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
  • develop a local co-op for sharing time-consuming domestic chores
  • set up an informal chore swap with a neighbor

 


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