Did you know that 41% of the tasks on “to-do lists” never end up getting done?
To-do lists seem pretty straightforward. They basically represent a list of all the tasks you have planned to accomplish within a certain time frame, and are meant to make life simpler. You write down your tasks to avoid forgetting them and causing unnecessary stress.
We usually forget one integral question that we absolutely have to ask ourselves if we want to make the perfect to do list.
How to make a to do list that we might actually be happy getting through?
How To Make A To Do List You’ll Fall In Love With
There are tons of factors to consider if you really want to adopt a to-do method of organization and make it work for your particular situation. It is not just about having one, it’s about having an effective one.
The whole point is to actually help you manage things better, not just note the things you didn’t manage to take care of.
Many people start their workday by making a to-do list, so depending on how realistic you are, there will between 3 and 15 items on your list. If the number is small, you will end your workday feeling satisfied and energized, but if you try to complete a big number of tasks, you will feel disorganized, guilty and stressed.
This usually happens because we use our to-do lists to fulfill every single task that is thrown our way.
But I’m going to propose a new way to look at the way you form your to-do list. To avoid feeling stressed and disorganized, your list needs to have an effective list format.
Step One: Your First Task Has To Be the Most Urgent One
To-do-lists can cause you some complications when it comes to prioritization, because when something is at the top of your list, your brain will automatically assume that this particular task is the most important task for you to do.
An effectively organized to-do list is prioritized, and yet somehow that first task is often there because you thought of it before all the others, some of which might be more important. Consequently, your most important task may end up in the middle of your list, or even at the bottom. Nevertheless, that first one always gives off the impression of being the most important one.
Step Two: Use Due Dates and Time Signals
Making use of due dates and designating specific times for different activities will make a huge difference when it comes to prioritizing your tasks for every day of the week.
One of the most effective techniques when making such a list is adding due times as well, especially to those tasks that are super important. This will help you tackle your most urgent tasks on time.
However, you need to be careful, because adding due times to your to-do list can make it seem more rigid, and which may cause you to want to avoid the list completely because it stresses you out, so try not to overdo it.
Step Three: Qualifying Your Tasks
To create an effective to-do list template, all the tasks you write down need to fall into two categories:
- The task should be something very important, and not merely something you “need to get done.”
- It should be something that needs to be done on that very same day.
We need to be able to effectively determine what tasks are worthy of getting on the list. The to-do list isn’t some life guide, it serves a specific purpose.
The problem is that in many cases, what we find on our to-do lists are things that don’t have to be done, that we don’t really need, or that aren’t urgent by any means. This can cast a shadow on more important tasks, which means you’ll have to work longer and harder.
You might even end up feeling disorganized.
Step Four: Add Context to Each To-Do List Item
What exactly does that mean?
Break up large goals into small ones. Here’s an example.
Buying batteries requires less time than writing a book, but when placed on a to-do list, both of these tasks appear the same.
Our to-do lists usually do not include context about a certain task, and we do not often split up larger tasks into completable and smaller chunks.
Doing so will provide you with an insight into how long it will take you to complete a certain task.
We take ourselves to be reliable, but here’s the simple truth.
It is much easier to make a to-do list, tackle simple tasks and leave those time-consuming ones undone. As a matter of fact, we do this so often that 41 percent of all of our to-do list tasks are never completed.
To create an effective to-do list template, your tasks need to have more details, perhaps tags for urgent tasks, sub-tasks so that you can break up more complicated tasks, and notes that will explain every task in more detail.
Adding details, and then taking a look before you start your workday may take up a little bit of your time, but it will help you set expectations and perform your job more efficiently.
Step 5: Re-Evaluate Tasks You Never Get To
If you’ve ever made a to-do list, then you know you always have one or more choices when it comes to postponing or changing the details of your tasks. But, when you are doing this, you need to keep track of the tasks you have postponed, because an effectively organized to do list is prioritized, and the tasks are too.
If you are repeatedly bumping a task that is urgent or important to the next day, you need to find out why. Either that task is not as urgent or important, and it should not be on your to-do list, or there is a problem you need to solve so that you will be able to complete it. Whatever the matter, it is a signal that something is not right.
Step 6: The Two-Column Approach
One of the best to-do list examples is to try dividing it into two columns. On the left-hand side, you will make a chronological list of the tasks that need to be accomplished, like appointments and meetings, and on the right-hand side, list what you hope you will get done during those events, like discussing a particular issue or coming up with a certain plan.
Underneath your chronological list, include the tasks that need to be done on that very day. That way, when you have a couple of minutes, you can check your list and see what tasks you can tackle to make the best use of that free time.
Whether or not you have a to-do list, you have stuff to do.
That is exactly why you need to mess around with a new method of managing your tasks and creating an effective to-do list that you are going to love. Remember, formatting, prioritization, and organization are the keys to to-do list success.