5 'To Do' List Improvements

Take your 'To Do' list and kick it up a notch! These 5 'To Do' List Improvements will take less than 10 minutes and provide you with more time, fulfillment and serenity every day.

Almost everyone has a 'To Do' list. It might be written in an expensive planner, on a sticky note, in a smart phone app or on a napkin. For some, it's just in their head. But no matter where it is, the To Do list is the endless stream of tasks around which we build our days because they absolutelty have to get done.

Or do they?

The problem with the 'To Do' list is that there is no value assigned and no reflection involved about whether or not completing this task is time well spent. 'Clean out the car' gets equal billing with 'Schedule a physical'.  In my opinion, 'To Do' lists cause unnecessary stress and keep us from feeling accomplished. They keep us busy – too busy – but not productive.

In my coaching practice, I teach clients how to become goal oriented as opposed to task oriented. This is how true fulfillment and accomplishment are achieved. But short of this, here are 5 'To Do' List Improvements that will point you in the right direction to making sure the important things get completed and reducing some of the stress in your day.

  1. Create
  2. Delegate
  3. Prioritize
  4. Organize
  5. Chunk

1. Create a new To Do list for each day. Be mindful of things that can or should be done at some other time. I recommend doing this before going to bed. 

2. Delegate. Can someone else do this? (Let go, you control freaks! You know who you are!....)

3. Prioritze as follows: A=Must Be Done Today / B=Should Be Done Soon / C=Would be nice, but...  Tasks in each category should then be numbered in order of importance.

4. Organize beforehand. Put the dry cleaning in the car. Confirm the time and place for the meeting. Pull phone numbers for client calls.

5. Chunk like tasks together. Highlight or use asteriks to group 'calls to be made' or 'errands'. 

My clients & I swear by this. The times when I find myself saying "I'm so busy!", I stop and realize I've strayed from my daily planning and I re-group and re-focus. It works wonders! Try implementing this for one week and you'll be amazed what a difference it will make.

(If you'd like more tips on productivity, please include in comments below.)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bernadette Bolton May 21, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Hi Chris. Thanks for the question. Google Tasks do not allow you to assign priorities. However, this is what I would recommend... 1) When entering tasks, only assign dates to those that definitely need to be done on a particular day. 2) Under 'Actions', select 'Sort by Due Date'. 3) When doing your daily planning, review the tasks for that day. Select any unscheduled task that you would like to add to the day and enter the date. 4) Decide on any tasks that can be delegated. Notify the appropriate person and make a note in the Note section of the task. (Don't check off until you know it's been completed.) 5) Make organizing notes in the Note section, too. Meeting address, client phone number, etc. 6) Under 'Action', click on each task and use the up & down arrows to move them into the appropriate order according to priority and type (e.g. calls, errands). It's possible to create a separate list for 'types' of tasks, but I don't recommend this since you can only see one list at a time. 7) Check tasks off as they're completed. (This feels GREAT! :) You can also print off your list each day after assigning tasks, if this helps you to organize. If you would like to consider a To Do list with more functionality, check out Remember The Milk (RTM). This app allows prioritizing, creating project lists and several sorting options and works with Google Calendar. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.
Margie Bowen May 22, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I agree, Bernie! Prioritizing is key. Thanks for the tips, and sign me up for more. Margie
Susan Schaefer May 22, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Great advice Bernie! Looking forward to seeing you Thursday at the BIG meeting! Sue
Bernadette Bolton May 22, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Thanks, Ladies! Glad you enjoyed. :)
christine upton May 23, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Thank you, Bernadette. I will try the things you suggested. And I will get the app Remember the Milk. Chris


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