Have you ever faced a long-ass to-do list and the first thing that popped into your head was ‘well, eff me’?
I know you have. Because I found myself in this situation very often a few years ago. I pilled up work and tasks into one to-do list and almost never completed it because – let’s face it – it’s quite impossible to do 100 tasks in one day.
Somehow during my blogging journey, I earned myself a name of a person who makes long to-do lists and still completes them. This made me realise that not everyone does to-do lists like me and actually, a lot of people fail with their lists.
That was such a big revelation to me. To-do lists look so simple and easy to do for me but somehow some people do them in a wrong way thus failing to complete them as they should.
After all, to-do lists are made for easing the workload and giving you a clearer vision of what you did and what is still to be done.
So I decided to write a blog post and break it all down so that you, who are struggling with to-do lists, would start conquering your day tasks instead of being conquered by them.
Let’s master the art of making productive and achievable to-do lists!Start conquering your daily tasks instead of being conquered by them by reading this guide! Click To Tweet
Set 3 main tasks
The most crucial part of making any to-do is setting up to 3 main tasks that need to be done that day. Those 3 tasks are the ones you need to focus on the most throughout the day.
Think of them like important emails – with stars and all that – that need to be sent that day no matter what. Those tasks are your priority and remember what I say about priorities? You must ALWAYS prioritise your priorities.
There will always be more tasks that need to be done and you might think that you simply cannot cut them down to only 3. Let me tell you something – it’s BS. You can always cut your tasks down. It’s just the matter of priorities.
So before writing your to-do list, sit down and think what are the main 3 tasks that need to be completed today. Maybe other tasks that you think are important can be done tomorrow or next day. Think about it.
Divide big tasks/projects into smaller ones
Sometimes you might have a big project coming up or a huge task that needs to be completed. The worst mistake you can make with those is to write them down as they are on your to-do list. You might as well set yourself on fire because you’re going to burn anyway.
Why people like doing to-do lists? Because they like the feeling of satisfaction when they tick off that box.Why people like doing to-do lists? Because they like the feeling of satisfaction when they tick off those boxes Click To Tweet
So don’t rob yourself of that feeling by making a mistake of adding a huge task into one box.
If you divide your big task into few smaller ones, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and will get to tick off more boxes which basically equals more satisfaction points.
Here’s an example: I need to write a blog post for tomorrow. I can write down ‘write a blog post’ into my to-do list and loose satisfaction points or I can make it more convenient to myself.
In this case, I would most likely divide ‘write a blog post’ into these tasks: outline the blog post, edit the post, add links, take photos, edit/add photos, review the blog post.
See? Out of one big task, I made 6 smaller tasks that can be done separately and in the course of time that I’ll set. This way I give myself more satisfaction – because more boxes, yo! -, more freedom and more clarity of how much I progressed with the ultimate task of ‘write a blog post’.
Evaluate time resources
If I’d get $1 for each time I see someone making a to-do list without evaluating his/her time resources, I’d have a bit more money to spend on travelling.
Seriously, why would you think that simply writing down tasks that need to do done without evaluating the time they would take and the time you have would make a good to-do list?
Think of this in this way, there are 1440 minutes in a day, so you have $1440 to spend on whatever you want to do or achieve. So how you plan on completing tasks that cost $2000 when you only have $1440? That is without any sleep, 24hours straight.
Not so smart, is it?
Always try to evaluate these two points when making a to-do list:
- How much time will this task take?
- How much time do I have on this day to complete all the tasks?
When you’ll know the answers, you’ll be able to make a good and truly achievable to do list. Let me give you a little example of how I evaluate time:
Let’s say that I need to schedule tweets for the day, go through my inbox, write one blog post and visit 10 blogs. I’d measure that I have time to do all of this from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. because after 6 p.m. I have other plans.
So in total, I have 7 hours for my to-do list to be all completed. What I do next? I evaluate how much time each task will take, so I’ll know if it’s possible to complete the list and how much time I have to spend on each.
Scheduling can be done in 5min, inbox in 30min, visiting blogs in 2 hours (read each post carefully, leave a genuine comment) and writing one blog post should take around 3 hours. Of course, in the process, I would make smaller tasks of it and would count how much time each small task would take.
So in the end, I have 5 hours 35 minutes that I’ll really spend on completing those tasks. This means that I have 1 hour 25 minutes to spare or to use if I’ll need during those tasks.
Does that make sense? I evaluate time resources that I have and this way know if my to-do list is achievable or not. If not, I proceed to postpone tasks that can be done next day or minimise the time limit for some if possible.
Set tasks into categories
One of the reasons why I recommend you to set every task to its category is because it makes the whole work process so much more effective and easier to comprehend.
You won’t get lost among all of your tasks if you’ll label them. You’ll know what you need to do for work, what you need to do for housework and what you need to do in your leisure time.
Simply have few different columns or lines for different kind of works/tasks.
I promise you, it will get much easier when you will start ticking off your boxes in order. You won’t get overwhelmed and you surely won’t get distracted by all the work that you have to do.
To give you an example, I have few categories for my own to-do lists: blogging work, university, housework and events/appointments. This way I know what I need to do for university, for upcoming events and so on.
If you want to have a killer to-do list that you’ll actually complete, here’s what you need to do:
- Divide your big tasks/projects into smaller tasks
- Evaluate your time resources
- Pick up to 3 main tasks that you need to complete that day
- Put all the tasks into categories
And that’s it! I do all of these steps every single day and I manage to complete my to-do list 99% of the time. If you’re wondering where the last percent goes to – life gets in a way. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t do anything to fix the situation and that is honestly okay. So focus on what you can do and get that work done!
What techniques do you use?
Will you implement these tips to your to-do list making?