How to make the most of your to-do list

How to make the most of your to-do list

There are two types of people when it comes to lists, those who love them and those who don't. But, for people with a very busy life, a list can make everything seem manageable. Starting a to-do list will force you to make time to plan, it will focus your thoughts and help you to build a list of priorities. If you are new to creating a list, you may struggle to find the discipline to keep everything updated, especially when a specific task is ongoing. To help you we have put together a few strategies which we believe will help you make the most of your to-do list.

Set time aside at the start of the day

When we are busy it may seem hard to find ten minutes spare, but setting aside a few minutes at the start of the day will improve your productivity and relieve stress. Write down everything you would like to do that day. A good starting point is listing around three big jobs and two smaller ones. It doesn't matter if you do not achieve everything, but seeing the things you have completed will fill you with a sense of accomplishment. Any tasks left to do can be easily carried through to the list for the following day. The list will help you visualise your path through the week so that you can improvise when something doesn't go according to plan.

Pick your most important tasks

When you have written your list, choose a task which you feel will make the day successful if it is completed. Then choose two more important jobs on your list, which you will move on to if the first is finished. By focusing your activities on one major task which will give you a sense of accomplishment, you will soon feel more motivated. It is likely that there are many more things you need to complete, but these are probably not as important. Instead of worrying about dozens of tasks, conserve your energy and focus on the most important actions for the day.

Put things into perspective

Once you have written everything you need to do down, you will probably notice that some things which seemed important are not actually the highest priority. Completing a list is a chance to put everything into perspective by looking at the whole picture. By clearing and refocusing your mind you will reduce your stress levels and find the boost in energy needed to tackle the list.

Involve your team

Although many of us benefit from lists in our personal lives, they are an important aspect of time management in businesses. Many of us are guilty of becoming so immersed in the day-to-day activities of our roles that we forget to take time out to plan for the future. By setting aside time as a team to scope out your aims, it will help the business reflect on the day, your overall goals and how you will achieve them. The team will begin to learn from new ideas and strategies, which will help when brainstorming plans for the future. By sharing your lists with your team, you will find that you become more receptive to constructive criticism. Your ideas become collaborative, by removing the individual mindset which can impact the completion of many tasks.

Write everything down

Over the course of a day many thoughts, ideas and tasks will pop up. Many of us are guilty of only recording what we deem as important on our to-do list, but we could all benefit if we noted as many things down as possible. An average person can only hold seven things in their mind at once. This means that many important tasks can be easily forgotten, as our minds fill with new thoughts throughout the day. It is true that writing something down on paper does take time, but it also sends a message to your brain, to say that this is something which you should be remembering. So, even if you don't complete the task immediately, at some point you will remember that it is still left to do.

Think creatively

A list doesn't need to be reserved for fully formed ideas. If your mind is full of creative thoughts, jot them down. The process of writing down a new idea creates a starting point and will remind you to come back to it in the future. All creative ideas start with writing things down, it is rare that a great idea arrives in our minds as a fully formed plan of action. Creating a list and brainstorming can help you refine your ideas, making it easy for you to revisit them in the future

Start the day by completing a task

This tip will work well in both personal and work environments. Most of us are guilty of checking emails, the news, social media sites or responding to messages before we begin our main tasks for the day. There will always be technology and people around to distract you from your to-do list, so pick a key task from your list and complete this before anything else. Some of the most successful people have improved their organisational skills by setting boundaries and putting their to-do list at the top of their priorities.

Don't ignore the small tasks

It is easy to look through your list each day and ignore a small task, especially if it doesn't seem important. But, you will find that over time this small task will start taking up an increasing amount of mental space, as ignoring it will start to bother you and cause it to seem bigger than it really is. It may only be something which will take you ten minutes, so rather than worrying about it for ten minutes every day until you accomplish it, find the time to get the job done. If you don't have time today, put it at the top of your list tomorrow and you will soon free up a lot of energy.

Invest in great stationery

A fresh, new notepad and pen is a great way to begin your to-do list, especially if they are personalised for you, your team or the wider company. This way you can have a sense of pride in your to-do list, transforming the act of writing in your notebook from being one that is merely functional to a therapeutic process. Notepads from My Own Stationery can be fully customised with your own designs, so if you are looking for a cover with an inspirational quote or a unique image, the possibilities are endless when designing a personalised notebook

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