We are all for decluttering our minds and a great way to do that is to get things out of your head rather than trying to remember the myriad of tasks you want to get done today, tomorrow and even just someday.
A simple To Do list is a quick, no fuss, and valid, way to do this.
Whether you use pen and paper, post-it notes, a diary, notes on your phone, your calendar or an app, corralling your thoughts into a list can be cathartic. Almost as much as ticking items off as you go!
SIDE NOTE: If you decide to write a list of things after you have already completed a task or two, always add them on to the list so you can tick them off straight away and give yourself a pat on the back. It’s such a good feeling!
Now that we have celebrated the benefits of a To Do list which works well for so many people, let’s look at some potential downsides which may make it a bad choice option for some.
Is that it?
One BIG issue with a simple To-Do list is that there is usually some really important information that is forgotten.
A To-Do list in its simplest form always neglects the following:
- Timeline or deadline
- Resources required (think people, money, time, materials, equipment etc.)
- Individual tasks that may be required to complete the To-Do on the list.
Let us illustrate.
Consider a task such as “plan birthday party”.
It’s not as quick or simple as just popping to the supermarket to grab some groceries and wha-la the party is happening! You may have to buy gifts, make or buy a cake and decorations, send out invitations, plan the menu and the list goes on.
If I just had “birthday party” on my list next to “haircut” or “buy birthday card” it would take me a lot more time and effort to get the party ticked off than it would to buy a card and there are actually multiple tasks which can be completed in isolation (ie they don’t all need to be done straight away or at one time).
How can I make lists work for me?
Don’t get us wrong. If a simple form To-Do list works for you, keep going!
If however it doesn’t work, things are forgotten and you don’t ever feel like you get anything ticked off, here are 5 steps to move you forward and make your To-Do lists work for you.
- BREAK IT DOWN
- Break down a project into individual tasks.
- Note specific deadlines or timelines.
- Yes, delegation should be considered early. Does this have to be done by me? Who else may have the time/skills/knowledge to be able to take this off my hands?
- Consider timelines and priorities of each task, and estimate the tie it might take to complete.
- Block out time in your diary to take action, listing the individual tasks to be progressed.
- Group similar tasks together. This may be items that all require you to go to the local shopping centre so you can get it all done in one trip. Or, the weather might be lousy, so staying inside and catching up on phone calls or emails might be a great option.
- Batch together a number of quick tasks that may only take a few minutes each and do them in one go. Imagine the feeling of achievement to tick off multiple tasks in a small amount of time!
- Regularly check your list and if something is no longer important or relevant, delete it – pronto!
Now where is that list…….