There are two types of people in the world—the kinds that use to-do lists, and the kinds that don’t, and the ones that are, may just be doing something right. To-do lists can help you track everything from what you need at a grocery store, to what you need to accomplish with your day or week. Lists help you not only remember the things you need to get done, but also help you prioritize and focus.
By writing down your tasks, you will have a clearer vision of what you need to accomplish. This means that you’ll be spending more time on the things that need to be done rather than the things that can wait. By making lists and following them, you’ll soon feel more organized and on top of everything you have going on in your life.
Having a to-do list, you’ll also improve your memory. It’s said that the average person can only hold seven pieces of information for about 30 seconds. To-do lists can be a great tool to help with your memory, because lets face it, with all the things we have going on in our lives, it’s easy to forget stuff.
Lastly, to-do lists can clarify your goals by laying out what you need to accomplish. Every time you cross something off that list, it feels great, which makes you want to keep doing it. The affirmation that you get from making progress will help motivate you to keep moving forward in a more organized, and less overwhelming way.
But making a checklist is one thing, how do you make sure it’s an effective list that holds you accountable?
1. Qualify the contents
Everything on your to-do list should be something important that you need to do, instead of things that can wait or be delegated to someone else. Add items to your list that are urgent and the most important, and then if need be, have a list of tasks that can wait. This way if you finish the important tasks, you can easily hop to the other tasks on your list.
2. Set timelines
Estimate how much time each task on your list will take. When you start to cram too many things to accomplish in one day, it can be overwhelming, which only leads you to feel less motivated or obligated to use/complete your list. Setting timelines will help you be realistic about what can really fit into your day.
3. Be realistic
When you fill your list with too many things that are impossible to get all done in the day, your list will end up feeling daunting instead of rewarding and motivating. Look at the timelines you set for each task and see what’s practical to cram into your workday without feeling overwhelmed.
4. Write it down
It's not enough to brainstorm a list of things to do, or even type it into a word doc. only to be left unopened on your desktop for weeks. The best way to keep a checklist is to physically write it down every day in an organized notebook that you reflect on in the mornings and evenings. Keeping a journal puts all of your to-do lists in one place and keeps you accountable for actually getting things done.
To-do lists can be a great tool to help motivate you, improve your memory, and most importantly, increase productivity. By organizing your tasks at hand and your time, you’ll feel better equipped to run head first into your day, and you’ll feel as if you are actually spending your time wisely.
About the Author
Lauren Marinigh is a Toronto-based online marketing and content development professional, who is completely addicted to traveling, puppies, and GIFs.