I must have been born writing to do lists. To do lists are the ultimate source of organization which helps our productivity and grants peace to our busy minds. By writing down and prioritizing our tasks, errands and necessary to do things, we take stress off our overburdened memory muscles.
Without to do lists, individuals may become frazzled, frustrated and unaccomplished. To do lists are crucial to our busy lives.
Here are 7 tips for writing and using to do lists:
1. Create your to do list on something that you will carry throughout the day.
You may use paper, an official to do list pad, the back of a receipt, cute hot pink sticky notes or even your cell phone. You may keep it in your wallet, in your purse, in your pocket, or even on your dashboard. No matter what, it needs to be something that is legible and easy to refer to all day long.
I’ve always had a piece of paper and a pen to jot down my lists. Recently, however, I downloaded a list app on my phone—and that is my primary source of “to-doing.” My phone is never more than a few feet away from me–making my to do list easily accessible. (I love it!)
Once you determine your style of to do listing, you need to…
2. Have a set time for creating your to do list.
Some people write their to do lists right before going to bed. Some write it at the start of the day during breakfast. I, personally, write my to do list when I first wake up in the morning. Whatever the case, be sure to have a set time to write it. Basically, writing your to do list should be at the top of your list.
After you determine your set time to write your to do list, you need to…
3. Brainstorm everything that pertains to the list.
I usually brainstorm everything on a piece of paper or on my listing app. Brainstorming is a time when all ideas of tasks to do may be free flowing. Don’t worry about the details of when you’re going to do it or how you’re going to accomplish it. This may stop the flow of remembering everything necessary. Just write, write, write until no ideas come to mind.
Also, when I brainstorm, I refer to my old list. This helps me to remember the items that may have moved up in priority from the day before. It also helps me keep track of my long-term tasks.
Once you’ve brainstormed, you may move on to…
4. Arrange everything in order of importance. Write it on your official list.
I usually put everything in order of importance from top to bottom. The top third of the list contain things that need to get done immediately (or, at least, that day.) This way, when I am on the go, I can glance at the list to view the most important tasks at the very top. This helps my mind to focus on what I really need to get done.
The second third of the list contain things that could get done that day, but, if needed, I could get it done later. The bottom third usually include tasks that can wait a bit longer.
After prioritizing the items on your list, you may go on to…
5. Accomplish the tasks on your list
I usually work from the top third of the list down. However, I sometimes come across an opportunity to accomplish a lower priority item during the day. If it’s convenient, I usually get it done then get back to the higher-priority items.
For instance, going to the bank the other day was top-priority for me. Going to the store was low on the list. However, since the bank was right next to the store, I quickly finished my banking, then I ran into the store to buy my items. In the long run, this saved me time, energy and the effort of having to make a special trip to the store later on.
While accomplishing the tasks on your list, be sure to…
6. Cross off each item from the list as soon as it is done
Personally, I don’t delete or erase any item once it’s done. I just draw a line through it. Later in the day when I wonder how I’ve progressed, I look at my list and I count how many tasks I’ve crossed off.
I am often surprised at how much I actually accomplish in the day. It is a great motivator and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Now really, don’t we all need a little assurance that we’ve actually done alright? (Hooray!)
In addition to these tips, don’t forget to…
7. Look at your list throughout the day.
When I make a to-do list, I usually glance at it throughout the day. This way, I am able to refresh and refocus my mind on what I need to get done. (This Happy Budget Girl can kind of get off-track without this method. 🙂
The infamous to do list is vital to keeping your time organized and budgeted properly. I’ve lived with to do lists forever. I hope these 7 tips will help you to effectively utilize your to do list.
Now remember…you….are…at the top of the list
The Happy Balance Girl
Copyright 2015 by Stacey Shimabukuro-Lui. All rights reserved.