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How to write a successful to-do list?

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how to write a to do list

And how to write a successful one? Usually to-do lists are being made so we could become more productive, so our actions become more targeted and our plans more successful. We use to-do lists for planning as well as reminders. To-do lists are useful tools to save time, to reach a goal, to avoid procrastination and to increase productivity. But do they always work? Not so much. Even the best of the list makers (Ben Franklin) have failed at this task. So, how to write a successful to-do list?

Each and every one of us is a special person, an individual with its own set of characteristics and rituals, sets of behaviours and routines. So, it is natural that different things work for different people but in the end there are few good tips that can summarize this subject to useful 4.

  1. Divide big projects into smaller tasks to make the list do-able. Tasks need to be as much as specific as possible, as well as actionable and attainable.

  2. Priorities Prioritize. PRIORITIZE! or you will end up with a (huge) list too long for us to keep, because our mind can`t keep track and can easily get lost in the process.

  3. Plan ahead ..for the following day, week, month... or a project milestone. If you set a clear and specific view of the tasks in question and get a visual understanding of a set time-frame, having a to-do list planned ahead for each phase of the project keeps us prepared and aware, focused and intentional.

  4. Be realistic in your planning If you fail at this point (maybe this one should be the first one to have in mind when planning to make a to-do list) your to-do list is doomed and becomes pretty much a moot point.

Asses your life and daily routine objectively. We all have ideas about how we would love to live our lives, execute our to-do lists and whatnot, but in the end we need to be honest and realistic about ourselves and our own abilities. And more important, our time. After initial routine assessment, if you don`t have a routine - make one (it’s one of the most powerful ways to become a great list maker) and if you do, see how you can incorporate lists and executing tasks in hand for more productivity.

BONUS - we all are different and each individual has its own way. Find out which one works best for you.

Double bonus  - How I did it, or am trying to do it?:

+ work - write important tasks in your notebook, planner, list and do ONE task at the time.

+ blogging - try to write at work when procrastination kicks in (lets be honest, it happens) - that is a great way to cultivate the routine of writing and to avoid procrastination, which in most cases leads to nowhere. Even when disguised as "research" or "inspiration browsing".

+ have a break in between - aprox. 5 to 10 minutes so your brain can reset, reboot and recharge and start fresh on a new task without feeling overwhelmed or preoccupied.

I feel that is important that you don`t lose focus of what is important, and that is that you need to listen to yourself and see how you live and work and what are the best options for you in your line of work so you would make the most of any list. No need to lose focus and energy on comparing yourself with others and their methods.

 What are your methods for staying productive and when making to-do lists? Do you make lists? Paper or app? I would love to hear from you.


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