We all know this problem: Our days are shorter than they should be and our virtual To-Do lists get longer and longer.
To-Do lists only help if you actually know how to use them or if you develop your own style for them. With this article we want to help you to better organize your work day, to be more efficient, allowing you one more coffee break or maybe leaving early today. Sounds good to you? Here we go on our way to your perfect To-Do list.
Paper or digital
Good question, and there’s no right answer. Your preference for paper or a digital To-Do list will depend on your work day, habits and personal preferences. We recommend paper versions as we are all working too much on the computer and phone. If you write your list by hand you will automatically remember what you wrote.
But of course use recycled paper or better: Use the last letter you got in the post that wasn’t important, the envelope in which it came in or other used papers. If you want a proper structure use a ruler or paper with lines.
The basic rules for your perfect To-Do list
Before finding your personal method you need to respect some rules.
Write clearly: If you use paper for your To-Do lists, write clearly. There is nothing worse than wasting time trying to remember what you scribbled down during the last phone call and now you do not know what you wanted to express anymore. It’s better to use one or two more words such as“call Tom- Meeting Tuesday” instead of just “call Tom”.
Highlight priorities: Do not forget to assure that you will always see at first glance what is most important. Much like in your job, your To-Do list needs to have things which are important, other urgent. Urgent things first, important always comes second.
Goals and tasks
Keep in mind that goals are bigger steps that you want to achieve. But on a to-do list, you should only write down tasks. These are things you can finish in a reasonable time, like : prepare the presentation for Tuesday’s meeting. “Becoming a millionaire before 30” is a goal, but not a task. Keep a different list or a page in your agenda with your goals of the year or 5 years, etc.
Assign due dates
To assure that you actually finish your lists, you should assign dates or deadlines to every task. This can be “before the end of the week”, or a specific date. No matter what format you prefer, having a realistic but not too long deadline is important.
More than one list
One To-Do list will quickly create an overload of information. Either make several separate lists between job and private life, or between different work tasks, meetings etc. With several lists or groups you will keep the overview easier. Or write in different colours, this can work for shorter lists.
Tick off what is done
The best moment of a To-Do list? – Of course the moment when things are done. Tick them off and celebrate things that are done. Have a coffee break, or eat a cookie.
Of course, if you always open a bottle of champagne your co-workers will love you, but this is not a reasonable way to do it !
Be true to yourself
Probably the most important point : do not make lists to make lists!
This means that To-Do lists can be great to keep the overview and to motivate you or not to forget something, but do not make lists just to have lists. If you write every little thing down instead of doing it, you will waste time. In the beginning you will be motivated as you can tick off many things. But in the long-term this is not a technique which brings satisfaction.
Develop your own way
It is on you to train and see what fits best for you. Create your perfect To-Do list. Use these tips to start to find out what works best for you. Take a paper and pen and start. If you want to have templates- here you go. We prepared some different formats and styles of lists for you. Just download your favourite. And keep in mind: if you print only use recycled paper or print on used paper !