A to-do list is a most used and abused productivity technique. Used because every entrepreneur will have one, abused because few people actually work their way to the bottom of their list. Making a to-do list is the easy part, accomplishing the tasks is a different matter. But learning to complete your to-do list and accomplish your tasks can yield significant changes in productivity. Here are a few tips on how to keep crossing off your to-do lists successfully.
1. Keep it Simple
One common mistake is trying to cram all upcoming tasks into your to-do list. Prioritisation is the key to a simple list. What is important and upcoming? What needs your attention today? Instead of having a to-do list that has all your monthly tasks, break down your tasks down to daily tasks. A to-do list with 3-5 items is less intimidating than one with 11 items. A short and simple to-do list is far more motivating because you know it’s achievable.
2. Tackle More Difficult Tasks First
If you leave the biggest or most difficult tasks until last, the chances are it won’t get done. By concentrating on the most difficult task first, you’ll build momentum it’ll become easier to complete the smaller tasks on you list.
3. Mark Items on a Calendar
Instead of having a plain to-do list, add a time/date column where each task is allocated a timeframe. When the time comes for a certain task, do it and complete it if it is simple. If it cannot be completed, allocate more time on another date.
4. One thing at a time
Multitasking actually lowers productivity. It is tempting to try handling two or three tasks at the same time when your to-do list is demanding. But you are more likely to do things half-heartedly in this approach. Pick a task, work on it and complete it before moving on to the next item.
5. Set up an Accountability System
You will feel more driven to complete your to do list when there is someone to answer to. This can be anyone; a business partner, a spouse, or an assistant. Give them a copy of your to-do list. That gentle push to get things done can be very effective in overcoming procrastination.
6. Daily Review
You should review your to-do list daily. At the end of each day the questions to ask would be; what have I accomplished today? What did I fail to accomplish and why? Cross off completed items. At the beginning of the day, what was left pending? What else needs adding to the list? Make a new list while prioritising the new items.
7. Reward Yourself
Decide on how you will reward yourself if you complete your to-do list before you make a start on it and it will help you to stay motivated. It could be something as simple as a glass of wine at the end of the day or a meal out. If you don’t complete your to-do list, don’t reap your reward!
8. Put in the Preparation Beforehand
Before you make a start on your to-do list, make sure you have all of the tools and resources you need to complete your goals. There is nothing worse than sitting down to make a start and realising there’s certain things you can’t complete due to missing resources!
9. Create A List of Completed Tasks
Like the classic paper and pen to-do list, being able to see the crossed off items can give you a great sense of accomplishment. If, however you can see that you’ve only been able to cross off 1 or 2 items, it can give you the push you need to work harder the following day.
Using a to-do list is a proven time management technique. Perfecting it will make you more productive, enabling you to complete essential tasks and have adequate time for a better work-life balance. So, give these techniques a go! If there’s a technique you’ve tried that we haven’t mentioned, leave a comment below.
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