Organizing all the things you need to do in your business is extremely important. Without organization things can fall through the cracks and you can increase the chance of burn out. There are a lot of different ways that you can organize your business, but one of the best ways to stay organized day to day is the classic to-do list.
Even with a to-do list, things can get out of hand because there are so many ways you can do them. To help you optimize and improve your to-do lists, we’ve put together our top 4 tips.
Writing to-do lists can seem daunting depending on who you are. One of the easiest habits to get into is to write very vague items. For example, you might write on your list that you need to pick up a gift. But what does that really mean? Who are you getting it for? Why are you getting it? What are you getting? This can cause you to not do the item on your list because you don’t know exactly what it is. Instead, if you wrote: “Pick up flowers for mom’s birthday” you will know exactly what you need to do, and it will be easier to complete.
You don’t want to get to into the nitty gritty of things or your list will end up too long. When your list is too long, we end up back where we started with it feeling overwhelming.
Make Your List Short
This is going to sound counter intuitive, but when we make our to-do list too long it makes it difficult to figure out what to do first. The first thing to learn is that you need to be specific, but not TOO specific. For example, don’t write down every single step you need to do to complete purchasing flowers for your mom’s birthday. You just need to keep it short and sweet, but specific enough that you know exactly what to do. This will help you keep your list short.
Another great way to keep your list short is to start with a long list – also known as a brain dump. Write down absolutely everything you need you to do that’s on your mind on one sheet of paper. When you are done get smaller pieces of paper and create smaller lists. You can organize them in the best way you need, but most people focus on different days for each piece of paper. You can also do this digitally to save paper and to move things around easier.
Once this is done, you want to learn how to prioritize your lists to help keep your productivity up.
Now that you have your shorter lists by day, project or whatever works best for you. It’s time to prioritize them. The most common way to prioritize a to-do list is to put whatever is the most important items are at the top and go from there. We find it’s better to create two lists within that list.
Your first list is going to be the 3 things that must be done that day and cannot be moved to another day. These are the first things you will concentrate on. The second list is other items that you want to complete during that day, but it’s okay to move to another day should something else come up. We all know those days where there is emergency after emergency or the days we just don’t feel well.
By separating the smaller list into two lists you will be able be more productive and less stressed. Just don’t make it a habit to move the second list to the next day each time or you will end up back at square one.
Maximizing the Benefit of Your To-Do List
There is one final thing that will help you with your to-do list. This is the timing in which you complete your to-do lists. We found that there are three great times to make them.
The first is on Sunday. This helps you set up your week for success and can make starting on Monday easier. The second is on Friday before you sign off for the day. This allows you to be set up for Monday before the weekend even starts. Finally, doing a list before you sign off each day can help you sleep easier and reduce your stress.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter when you do your to-do list if you are doing them in a way that helps you to be more productive and helps keep your stress levels down.