Use to-do lists

Do you like handy and easy to use tools? This is going to be one of them. Using to-do lists will allow you to increase the efficiency of doing scheduled tasks. What is more, it will also help you manage your time.

In this article I will show you how to make such lists. You will be able to forget about the stress resulting from the spate of things to do. You’ll see how easy it is to take care of everything you have planned to do on a particular day, still having time for yourself. :-)

Preparing a to-do list is basically writing down all the activities or tasks you want to get done in the nearest future (for instance, tomorrow). However, in doing so, it is crucial to remember about a few important principles which contribute to this simple technique being so powerful. A to-do list can be a powerful tool which will increase your productivity.

Why would you start using it?

- The preparation of such lists is the key to a really high level of efficiencyin the performance of scheduled tasks. The mere fact of just writing something down will make getting it done later so much easier, as well as it will actually ensure its completion. Before I started using this way of dealing with the organization of the day, I would realize how many things I forgot to do or just run out of time. Thanks to the to-do lists I found myself being able to get everything done from the list and still have plenty of time for myself.

- A very significant advantage of this technique is the fact that there is a lot of weight taken off your memory. It happens pretty frequently that a few good ideas you come up with during the day are gone within minutes. By putting them down you are making sure that you are not going to lose them.

-    I am sure you have experienced a situation where the amount of things to do and lack of time were really overwhelming for you... I used to find myself in such situation pretty often in the past, so many things to do, so little time, I didn’t know what to do first... But it all ended when I started using to-do lists as it leaves your mind free of thinking about them. Having it all written down will give you great relief. It is actually a step towards a stress-free life, even if you are always busy.  This stress-free productivity is probably the biggest advantage of to-do lists.

-    If you procrastinate a lot, doing irrelevant things such as surfing the net, walking around the malls for no reason, etc., to-do lists will help you eliminate those habits. You will learn how to spend your time productively, doing things that are important and valuable for you. It will allow you to get closer to achieving your goals.

It seems to me that I have convinced you to at least give this method a try. Personally, I really DOrecommend it. Thanks to those lists I have learnt how to get many things done in a short period of time. Moreover, it is a great motivation-booster! It is much easier to start working on things written down on a piece of paper where you see what you have to do than have those tasks just floating around in your head. And the best of all is checking all the things you have taken care of off your list :-)

Step by step, and what has to be remembered.

Before you make your first to-do list, familiarize with the tips below. I will tell you step by step how to grasp it to make this technique most beneficial for you.

-  First and crucial thing - get a notepad. It should be a small office spiral notepad so that you can always carry it with you and rip the pages out when necessary. Pages with tasks from yesterday won’t be needed the following day (if you didn’t succeed in getting everything done on the previous day you can simply rewrite it for the following day, throwing away the yesterday-page at the same time). It is important to be able to check the list or add something new to it at all times of the day.

- Ideally, you would have all the tasks from your list checked the same day you have put them down there. If you come up with another thing that needs to be done, you should add it to the list for the next day. Take a moment every evening to think about things you should do the following day and add them to the list.

- Except for the daily to-do list, you can also have a list with tasks you have to complete within a given week, a more general one. Such list will help you figure out what to put on your daily list, as usually those would come as secondary to the general weekly plan.

- Tasks that you write down must be quite small and easy to do. If you want to write something more, break the task into several smaller ones. The tasks on your list should be doable within 1-2 hours. I'll show you what I mean by providing an example. Suppose you want to join a gym, and this step consists of checking the offers available, choosing a gym, checking prices and making calls to all those gyms. In this case, don’t put "join a gym" on your list but, for example, "check out the offers and prices of the gyms around". Only when you perform this task on the list, type another step closer to your goal. It is very important and it is the key to the true effectiveness (task "join a gym" can be found in the weekly list).

- The list cannot consist of too many elements. When it comes to the weekly list, there should be less than 15 elements, the daily list, less than 10 (unless some of them are small tasks, such as calling a client / friend, then you can extend your list a little). Note down only things you are sure you want to get done. For the first two weeks of using this method, note only around 3-4 tasks to get used to this way of working and learning how to do it well.

- Make priorities. This isn’t necessary, I don’t always make those myself, but it helps to take care of the most important things first. Here you can use the ABCDE method. Putting letters next to the tasks on your list to mark their importance is what it’s all about - A next to the most significant, then B to a little less important, and so on. If there’s more than one task that should be on the top of your list you can write A1, A2, A3. Start early in the morning taking care of the tasks of the highest priority , then those of less importance. Having marked those priorities on your lists will enable you to always take care of the most significant things to do first. Even if in the evening it turns out you haven’t managed to do everything you planned to do, the top of your list will be checked!

- Of course when you complete your tasks, tick or cross them out of your list :-) Make sure to spend a few minutes every eveningto plan the following day, to check out the weekly list and thinking what else could be improved in preparing your lists.

It is also worth noting that the tasks on your list do not have to be incredibly important, such as those connected with work or school. I encourage you to put there are also various pleasurable activities such as watching a movie, meeting your friends, phoning your grandfather or buying a new book of your favorite author’s.

Before you make your first list of tasks to do, see what I wrote below. I will explain you step by step what to do to make this process give you the most benefit.

4 pieces of advice at the end

- Read the four following pieces of advice on how to determine the tasks, so that they will be even easier to do:

- Use active verbs, the task should be physical activities (write, call, develop, clean, do).

- You should be able to finish those tasks at once, so they should not take longer than 1-2 hours.

- Those should also be connected to your goals, to stuff that is important to you in life (this doesn’t have to apply to the simple and fun activities on your lists such as going to the cinema).

- You need to know exactly what to do to get the task done (if you want to join a gym, specify exactly how many offers you want to check out).

Preparation of to-do lists is a skill and you will become better and better at this in time. Start slowly, preparing short lists and make a habit of using them every day.

You can find applications which create to-do lists on your computer online. It can be synchronized with the desktop and your e-mail. These are very interesting ideas, but at the beginning I would advise you to prepare a list only with the use of pen and paper. I just stick to the more traditional options, and I think those are a lot more effective. However, such applications may be useful to someone who uses the computer frequently. I will write more about these applications soon.

Now it's your turn to try it out and let me know in the comment section below how you liked this idea. If you are already using to-do lists, let me know how it is working out for you and what are the benefits of it. Meanwhile, I can check the task "write an article about things to do list" off my list :-)

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