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Time ManagerIncrease Productivity with More Effective To-Do Lists
Here are some steps to help you create a productive to-do list so you can accomplish your tasks and goals, and be more efficient. Now is a great time to create those to-do lists for tackling work tasks and personal resolutions.
With the start of the New Year, it is a great time to create those to-do lists for tackling work tasks and personal resolutions.
While to-do lists can be helpful, simply having them does not mean you will be any more productive. In fact, it may be wasting time to create lists if the intended activities are not getting done or they end up creating feelings of being overwhelmed or guilt.
Multitasking can also create barriers to tackling your to-do list. Studies show that a worker’s productivity decreases by 20 to 40 percent every time they multitask or perform "task switching."
Here are some steps to help you create a productive to-do list so you can accomplish your tasks and goals, and be more efficient.
The purpose of a to-do list is to stay on top of short-term tasks or projects you are committed to completing. It should not include activities you do not need to do, or cannot or will not do. Before adding a task, ask yourself: Is this the best use of my time? Should I be doing this task? What would happen if I did not do this right now? For long-term or “someday” projects, create a “someday” list or project folders rather than bogging down your daily actionable to-do list.
For a to-do list to be effective it needs to literally tell you TO DO something. This is not the place for passive or vague language. If you have not thought the task through, it is not time to add it to the list. For example, “make money” is too ambiguous for a to-do list. To make this goal an action you can follow through on, break it into realistic steps with a definable beginning and end time such as, “Call three prospective clients today” or “Register for two upcoming networking events.” Always use active and clear verbs to get the message across.
Think about the best format for your personal style. Consider using a hand-held electronic device, which saves paper and can be easily updated. If having a written list is more your style, avoid sticky notes and other scattered papers by keeping one list in your daily organizer or small written notebook.
Since time lost switching among tasks increases with the complexity of the tasks, consider a typical day for you. If you can only get 20 minutes at a time without interruption, make sure your to-do list reflects that. Also, list items such as running errands in real time and allow “cushion” time for driving, traffic and waiting time.
Getting at least one task done early helps avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed that a list of tasks can create and gives you the energy to get a larger or dreaded task done. Put similar tasks together to get them done more quickly such as phone calls, e-mails and filing.
Copyright © 2008 Kristin White del Rosso
White del Rosso is a member of the NAPO Golden Circle and a Certified Paper Tiger Authorized Consultant (PTAC™) from the Hemphill Productivity Institute. She has also earned a Certificate of Study in Basic Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) Issues, a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization, and a Certificate of Study in Learning Styles and Modalities from the National Study Group of Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD). In addition to the National Study Group of Chronic Disorganization, Pea Organizing Services is a member of ADD Consults, ADD Resources, and the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPOTM).