Do you feel like your to-do list is controlling you instead of the other way around? Do you find yourself putting off tasks for later, only for that “later” to never come? Do you have a tendency to focus on the small details instead of the big picture? If so, then you are probably using your to-do system in all the wrong ways. To-do systems are meant to be helpful tools that help us manage our tasks efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, many people use them in counterproductive ways that end up hurting rather than helping their work performance. So how can you rebuild your to-do system so it actually helps you get things done as opposed to holding you back? Keep reading to find out…
Why Your To-Do System Isn’t Working for You
If you want to understand why your current to-do system isn’t working for you, then you need to first ask yourself why people create to-do lists in the first place. People create to-do lists in order to organize their tasks, maintain productivity, and stay focused on what they need to achieve instead of getting lost in the details. Unfortunately, many people use to-do lists incorrectly, which completely defeats the purpose of having one in the first place. To-do lists work best when they are specific, concise, and well-organized. When your to-do list is overly-complicated, unorganized, and full of vague tasks, it can actually make it harder for you to stay focused and on-task.
Rebuilding your to-do system
If your current to-do system isn’t working for you, then the first step is to start rebuilding it from the ground up. To do this, you will need to forget everything you think you know about how to organize your tasks and start from scratch. By doing this, you will get rid of all the bad habits you developed over the years that are currently holding you back. You will also be able to create a to-do system that works for you instead of against you. Now, in order to rebuild your to-do system, you will need to answer a few questions.
- What are your long-term goals?
- What are your short-term goals?
- What tasks do you need to accomplish in order to achieve those goals?
Start by prioritizing the tasks you want to accomplish
Once you’ve identified the long- and short-term goals that you want to achieve and the tasks you need to complete in order to achieve them, you need to prioritize those tasks.
- You can prioritize your tasks based on the due dates for each, or the importance of each task.
- You can prioritize your tasks based on how much work you think each task will take.
- You can prioritize your tasks based on how much you enjoy each task.
- You can prioritize your tasks based on which tasks are the most “rewarding” for you.
Be realistic about how much you can do in a day
While you want to be optimistic about what you can accomplish in a day, you also need to be realistic. You might think you can accomplish 10 tasks in a day when in fact only three or four are realistic. If you are setting yourself up for failure by attempting to do too much, you won’t have a positive work experience. Instead, you will feel unmotivated and overwhelmed, which will cause you to procrastinate even more and get even less done than you would if you were setting yourself up for success.
To be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day, you need to first ask yourself some questions.
- What time of day are you at your most productive?
- What time of day are you at your least productive?
- What time of day do you have the most energy?
- What tasks require the most energy from you?
Don’t Use Your To-Do List as a Task Inventory
Many people turn their to-do list into a never-ending inventory of every minor task they have yet to complete. They write down every small thing they need to do, and then they never get around to actually doing any of them.
Instead, you should be using your to-do list to record only the major tasks you need to accomplish. Out Priority 3’s notepad is a great option for this as it allows you to only focus on 3 tasks in Personal, Business and Home. An alternative is you can use separate lists or notebooks to write down all the minor tasks you need to complete. This will keep your to-do list from becoming too cluttered and overwhelming. This will also allow you to prioritize which tasks are most important to complete first.
Rebuilding your to-do system is a lot of work, but it is an essential step in making your life more productive. Once you’ve rebuilt your system from scratch, you will be able to reap the benefits of a better daily workflow for years to come. You’ll no longer feel like you’re being controlled by your to-do list, and you’ll be able to get more done in less time. Your to-do list may have been working against you, but once you rebuild it, it will be working for you.