How to Make the Perfect To-Do List
We are all looking for ways to get more productive these days. We look for ways to get more done in less time to improve our business and to reach our goals faster. Among the many ways to be productive, to-do lists are probably the most popular out of them all.
This may seem cliché, since it feels like to-do lists have been with us since the dawn of time, but there’s definitely a reason for it – they’re effective when done correctly!
Most of us look at to-do lists and think it’s just as important as any other shopping list. However, being able to know which of your tasks has the most priority, how many tasks you have left, and how much time you need to finish the tasks can motivate us into doing it even more.
Even psychologists from around the world have found that to-do lists can indeed increase the likelihood of you achieving your goals than just taking a mental note of it. Furthermore, crossing out a task you’ve finished in your to-do list definitely gives you a sense of motivation and pushes you to finish the rest within a certain time period.
So, if you want to know how to write to-do lists more effectively, here are some tips for making to-do lists that actually work for you:
Be precise #beprecise
When making your to-do list, don’t make an essay about why you should achieve that task. You already know the reason why you want to achieve it by yourself so no need to elaborate on the reason. In addition, you also don’t have to describe every single detail of how you’re planning to achieve a goal.
Keep everything as short as you can. Trim down on the tasks you think you need to achieve within a day. Many people tend to write the things they can actually do automatically such as “wake up”, “eat”, and “sleep”. Focus only on the most important goals you have for the day. It’s easy enough to fall into the trap of listing every single thing you need to achieve onto a single piece of paper and feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it after all.
This is why you need to avoid it by making your to-do list as short and precise as possible, so you don’t lose all the motivation you’ve mustered up.
Be specific #bespecific
In line with being precise, being specific is also key to making a good to-do list. List tasks that are as concrete as possible. For example, instead of writing, “Exercise”, write down the specific exercises you need to do instead and for how many repetitions. This makes your list more specific and avoids having you thinking over what you actually have to do when you start your day.
Another example would be someone writing “eat healthy” on their to-do list. This makes it harder for you to get started on doing it because you’d have to ask yourself all sorts of questions such as, “What does healthy mean?”, “How much can I eat?”, or “Where can I buy these healthy foods?”.
Therefore, you need to be as concrete as possible when making your to-do list. To avoid confusion and procrastination!
Choose the right medium
When it comes to where and how to make your to-do list, there are plenty of options out there. Ranging from apps or websites such as Todoist, Habitica, and Asana, to a simple pen and sticky notepaper. It’s completely up to you to choose whichever medium you think fits you the best.
Choose the one you think is going to help you stay productive and committed to your goals. If simple writing on pen and paper is enough for you, then good. However, if you want to make it more interactive, fun, or professional, websites or apps like the ones mentioned before are the right ones for you.
There are advantages and disadvantages on both sides, so to be fair let us look at both of them:
The advantages of writing on pen and paper are:
✨ It’s easy to do
✨ It’s easy to look at and stick wherever is convenient
✨ It’s free
Its disadvantages on the other hand are:
🥲 It can easily get lost
🥲 It can be seen by others
🥲 It can’t alert you
🥲 It can’t store your progress overall
The advantages of using apps:
☑️ You can bring it virtually anywhere
☑️ You can have reminders and alerts
☑️ You can store your progress online
The disadvantages of using apps:
❌ It’s hard to get into it
❌ Limited functionality
❌ Some functions are hidden behind a paywall
Set your Priority #setpriority
Having your priority clear right from the start not only motivates you but also makes it easier for you to go through your list. It’s easy enough to say “set your priorities”, but how exactly do we do it? Well, there’s something called the Eisenhower matrix that can help you.
This matrix consists of a quadrant that divides your tasks according to their urgency and importance. In here you have tasks that are:
Urgent and important
Important but not urgent
Urgent and unimportant
Not urgent and unimportant
Prepare the night before #prepare
They say that the perfect morning begins at night, and this is also true for making your to-do list. Make your list the night before and imagine yourself doing it right before you go to bed.
When you wake up the next morning, you will then be more motivated to begin the day than everyone else as you have your list to guide you through.
Set a time limit for the tasks
Not having a time limit or time frame allocated for our tasks can end up making us procrastinate over it for a long time. This is why it’s often better to set a time frame for which you intend to finish a certain task. For example, you can set a task to be started and finished an hour before noon or you can exercise for at least 30 minutes right after waking up.
This makes your list more organized and keeps you disciplined as you make yourself follow your own schedule!
Don’t multitask! #dontmultitask
In relation to the tip above, multitasking no matter how productive you think it is, actually makes you get fewer things done in general. Not only this but several studies over the years have also shown that multitasking has negative effects such as lessened cognitive function. Hence, you would want to avoid multitasking for your own sake.
A focused state of mind on a single task or job is a lot better for getting things done and being productive. Engaging in multiple tasks at once only distracts us and makes us miss key details in our work. Over time, you may eventually get things done faster as you increase your focus.
Building new habits is no easy feat. Just getting a pen and thinking about making a to-do list already makes a lot of people shy away from doing it. However, once you get the hang of it, it gets easier to do overtime. In fact, it could even be your most powerful productivity tool!
To help you, even more, you can get started by writing down precise and specific goals or tasks you need to achieve and write how much time you allocate for them each day. This makes your goals much more realistic and makes you feel more accomplished for achieving them. You should also remove any distractions near your work area such as your phone. With all these in mind, you are now ready to make the perfect to-do list!