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     To-Do List Do's

Used in conjunction with your calendar, a to-do list can be an extremely valuable tool to help you take control of your time. A to-do list gives you a ONE-GLANCE look at everything that you need, or would like, to accomplish in your day. I would be lost without my to-do list. Every time that I CHECK OFF an item, whether it is a large project or a letter that I want to write, I feel more in control of my time and my life. When used correctly, these simple lists can:
  • minimize MIND CLUTTER by keeping track of all of the odds and ends

  • keep TRIVIA that needs to be taken care of visible

  • improve your MEMORY by the mental activity of writing everything down

  • help you PRIORITIZE your activities

Suzanne Frisse, a well-known seminar leader and trainer, points out in her seminars that when she is feeling lazy about organizing a list, she reminds herself that starting work without a to-do list is like driving from her home in Kansas City to Yellowstone Park without a ROAD MAP. She would probably get there eventually, but would waste a lot of time and gas in the process. "Working without a list leaves me without a clear DIRECTION to my day," she advises. "I end the day exhausted, scratching my head and saying 'I know I was busy, but I seem to have nothing to show for all that activity!'"

Quickly think through all of your daily tasks and write them down. Don't forget the trivial items! Then group your tasks by using a letter code. A = MUST DO items; B = SHOULD DO items; and C = COULD DO items. Finally, prioritize each group by adding a number next to the letter. For example:
  • A1 Finish article for Themestream column
  • A2 Add new classifieds to Advertise_Online
  • B1 Go to bank
  • B2 Mail bills
  • B3 Laundry
  • C1 Call Mom
  • C2 Do filing

Tasks should be completed in the order of their IMPORTANCE, unless they have a time attached, such as a meeting or class. Use quick items in the "B" and "C" class to fill in. Your goal is to complete all "A" items, and as many "B" and "C" items as possible. Be REALISTIC with your time constraints and priorities, though. Not everything is an "A" item today, even if it is very important. Items that you do not get done should be added to another to-do list at the end of the day. This keeps all of your undone tasks ACTIVE. When you fail to get something done on one day, mark it with an arrow and the date that you have added it to.

Example: -->1/3 C2 Do filing

By moving certain tasks, keep in mind that it may CHANGE the priority codes attached to them. Although "Do filing" may be a C2 today, in several days, it may move up to a "B" or even an "A" class item! On the other hand, if you complete all of your tasks for today, you can always look ahead and get some of the things done that you have planned for future days! I love the feeling of being ahead of myself, and use the time that I've saved in the future on something fun for ME!

If you have your calendar in a spiral bound binder, as I recommended in the article on calendar usage, then add your daily to-do lists in the appropriate area of your binder. Some people like to keep them in their own section. I always found that I worked most effectively when my to-do lists are a part of my daily CALENDAR area. Get in the habit of ADDING tasks and appointments to your daily to-do lists as you make them, but hold off on prioritizing items until the day before when you have a clear idea of everything that you need to accomplish.

Here are a few quick tips to get you headed in the right direction:
  • Break large projects into several MANAGEABLE tasks that can be completed over a period of time. This keeps you from becoming over-whelmed.

  • Dr Joanna Good, a psychologist and therapist recommends getting started by doing a SMALL TASK or a little bit of a larger one. "This tends to motivate you to continue because it gives you the important feeling that your list is working for you."

  • Don't let LIST-MAKING take the place of DOING! Taking too much time preparing your list, without any action, is a big time waster.
The more that you learn to embrace these time-boosting habits, the more control you gain over your time and your life. This control allows you the incredible sense of well-being that being on top of everything allows you!


Mari Peckham is the President of Peckham Enterprises and webmistress of PowerPromoPlus, your online advertising solution. You may visit her website at www.powerpromoplus.com. To subscribe to her online advertising tips, tools and techniques ezine, Advertise_Online, send an email to .

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