Mastering To-Do Lists in 5 Easy Steps

The key to productivity is mastering your to-do list. Too many tasks and not enough structure will end in concentration chaos. Use these five steps to stay focussed and get more done.

Set today’s tasks apart from the rest

It’s difficult to focus on what needs to be done right now when future tasks are cluttering up your to-do list. Separate relevant tasks from everything else and add them to today’s list. Doing this will help control the mental clutter and allow you to focus on what’s important today.

Find the Goldilocks Point

When it comes to to-dos, you need just the right amount. Too many tasks and you’ll feel overwhelmed; too few and you’ll miss the details. Here’s an example of finding the Goldilocks point:

The Task: Sending a Social Media Report to a Client

Too Few:

  • Send Social Media Report

Too Many:

  • Open email
  • Open spreadsheet with social media data
  • Copy social media data
  • Paste into email
  • Add client email address
  • Copy manager into email
  • Send email

Just Right:

  • Gather social media data
  • Paste into email and copy manager in
  • Send social media report to client

Remember your ‘just right’ might be different. Tweak until your number of tasks best suits the way you work.

Bonus Tip: Tier your tasks correctly. While writing your task list, you may notice there are many tasks under one bigger task. Recognise when a task needs to be its own list. For example, “Go grocery shopping” will need it’s own list, complete with what to buy at the store.

Set aside time for the unpopular tasks

We all have tasks we hate doing. Keep on top of your to-dos by setting aside some time every week to tackle your least favorite tasks. Ticking off those unpopular tasks will make your mind feel less cluttered.

Set up TextExpander snippets for tasks you type out frequently

It’s likely you complete similar tasks every week. For example, you might find yourself typing “Follow up on email to ______” a few times a day.

To save time typing similar phrasing, use TextExpander to set up snippets, including fill-in fields to personalize the tasks. Next time you’re writing a to-do, type your quick abbreviation and your snippet will expand. Fill-in any fields and voila! Time saved writing to-dos, and more time to do them.

Review your tasks frequently

To avoid to-do list disasters, review your task list frequently to make sure there aren’t any important tasks lost at the bottom or leftover from yesterday. Set a reminder to spend a few minutes going through all your tasks every day, or a few times a week.

Take these five steps to make even better to-do lists. For more tips and tricks, join our group on Facebook.

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