August 1st 2017
The To-Do Listing that I am talking about is the verb and not the noun. It is not just a list that sits underneath piles of who-knows-what and gets crossed off every couple months with 3 different pen colors. I am talking about the action of listing out your specific items in a trusted place and keeping it updated throughout the day. EVERY day. To-Do listing has saved my life and for the sake of sanity, you should probably be doing this too. Here’s how:
1. Have all of your “stuff” in one place – Calendar appointments, to-do items, grocery list, reminders, phone numbers or emails that are related to your calendar appointments, notes, etc. This place should be easily accessible like a phone. Having this info on your desk calendar or desktop computer is inefficient because you do not walk around with those items at all times.
2. How to use just your iPhone for everything you need – Use a phone app that does the organizing for you like Asana or Trello. Use your phone calendar to add in appointments. There is a section for notes in the calendar appointments where you can add phone numbers, talking points, or reminders. You can sync your work email with most iPhones so that your work calendar syncs with your social calendar. It will even color code the different categories for you. Add your to do list items into your phone as calendar appointments.
Quick Tip – When you get a business card, immediately enter it into your phone. It will impress people and then you don’t have a pile of business cards lying around
3. When you are feeling stressed, Write it all out – Sometimes seeing everything that you have to do written down and added to your calendar makes it feel more doable. Visually seeing that you have enough time to do all of your tasks is key to lowering stress levels. If you cannot fit all of your items into that one day, then it’s time to prioritize.
4. Throw your shit away – Take the sticky notes, random notebook paper reminders, business cards, and obsolete phone numbers off your desk and throw them straight into the trash. Stop writing pen reminders on your hand (yes you).
5. Wake up organized – Instead of checking social media or Comcast news or whatever you read first thing in the morning, look over your checklist and calendar for the day. Set reminders for yourself and try to imagine how your day will be scheduled out
Quick Tip – Always leave a little leeway time on your to do list for things that come up that were not originally on your to do list. It never fails. It’s all about being flexible.
6. Put your to-do tasks in your calendar – Schedule out your calendar each day with your tasks. If you think something will take about 45 minutes, then stick it on your calendar for that time. This way, you will be able to make a realistic to do list. If you make a realistic to do list, you won’t feel defeated or unaccomplished at the end of the day.
7. Details, details, details – Keep the to-do list detailed. If you have a task that includes reviewing documents for a project, don’t just write “Review Project X Docs” on your list. You should be writing “Review The Requirements Doc for Project X.” This saves you tons of time. Same for your personal life. Don’t add in “House Chores” to your list if you have several chores to do. Instead, list them out as “Clean Bathroom, Sweep, & Wipe Down Kitchen Counters.”
If you are one of those people who thinks that making a to do list takes time away from your “real” tasks, you might be mistaken. When you don’t have a to-do list, you spend time trying to decide what to do next in your head. As you spend time thinking, your brain pattern gets interrupted leaving you with close to 2 minutes of time taken just to get back into a focused state of mind. On the flip side, it takes an average of about 10-15 seconds to look at a to-do list, find the next task, and get started. Thus, leaving more time for work and less time for your brain to daydream away about that thing that you meant to pick up at the grocery store, but didn’t have time because you didn’t To-Do List well enough that day.