Get Your To-Do List Under Control

Get Your To-Do List Under Control
Is your to-do list almost too long to read every day? Or have you simply given up trying to keep a current to-do list. Don’t give up; get your to-do list under control to compliment your time management strategies. To begin, you need to understand that a to-do list is a “hot list” not a planning pad, wish list or long term idea starter. Your to-do list is for tasks that must be accomplished in 48 hours or less. For anything further ahead, use advance planning list or add the items to your day planner for the appropriate due date.
***Take Inventory***
Start by writing down every task you need to complete on individual index cards. Arrange the cards in three piles: Must Do, Need to Do, Want to Do. The “Must Do” pile is the tasks that have to be completed in 24 hours.
***The Approach***
Take any “Must Do” items that could wait an extra day and place them on the next day’s to-do list. These are what some time management systems call the “A” level tasks. Next sort the “Need to Do” or “B” level tasks. These are important to do in the next day or two but not as imperative as showing up for a presentation or catching a plane.
***Productivity is Yours***
Finally, deal with the “Want to Do” or “C” level tasks that could be done any time in the next several days. Some time management systems suggest that you toss out the “C” tasks or add them to a “Someday” list for when you have extra time. Of course, that’s humorous since you need a time management system because you are already overscheduled. If you want to include these, just make sure they don’t serve as a distraction from necessary items. For example, you might enjoy surfing the net for collectible books but you don’t need to do that “C” item when you have an “A” list report due in four hours.
***The Superhero Syndrome***
How many items can you manage on a daily to-do list? It depends on whether each item is a one step process or multi-step process. With complex tasks, you may only be able to reasonably complete 3 or 4 “Must Do” items in a day. As you are adjusting to this time management technique, make a note by each item about how much time you expect to spend on this task.
***Using Your Tools***
You can create a paper to-do list or one on your computer, just as long as it’s easily accessible during the day. When an item is done, cross it off, make a checkmark beside it or in some way be able to see what’s done from what needs to be done. If you use an electronic to-do list, you can add color background for each level. The advantage of color-coding items is that you can quickly see how many yellow highlighted Must Do items are left compared with the green highlighted Need to Do items.
***When Day is Done***
At the end of the day, transfer any remaining important items to the proper category on the next day’s to-do list. When you finish the day and see most or all of the “Must Do” items finished and crossed off your list, it’s a great sense of relief and motivation to keep your time management system working for you.
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About the author:
Deanna Maio, The SavvyGals Coach, teaches women business owners to stop wasting time and start making more money. With her coaching programs and speaking, she helps busy self-employed women get the information, structure, and support, they need to deal attract more clients, grow their businesses and having a fulfilling personal life at the same time. For more information on her programs and products, visit her website: www.savvygals.com or call 503-922-2688.

Is your to-do list almost too long to read every day? Or have you simply given up trying to keep a current to-do list. Don’t give up; get your to-do list under control to compliment your time management strategies. To begin, you need to understand that a to-do list is a “hot list” not a planning pad, wish list or long term idea starter. Your to-do list is for tasks that must be accomplished in 48 hours or less. For anything further ahead, use advance planning list or add the items to your day planner for the appropriate due date.

Take Inventory

Start by writing down every task you need to complete on individual index cards. Arrange the cards in three piles: Must Do, Need to Do, Want to Do. The “Must Do” pile is the tasks that have to be completed in 24 hours.

The Approach

Take any “Must Do” items that could wait an extra day and place them on the next day’s to-do list. These are what some time management systems call the “A” level tasks. Next sort the “Need to Do” or “B” level tasks. These are important to do in the next day or two but not as imperative as showing up for a presentation or catching a plane.

Productivity is Yours

Finally, deal with the “Want to Do” or “C” level tasks that could be done any time in the next several days. Some time management systems suggest that you toss out the “C” tasks or add them to a “Someday” list for when you have extra time. Of course, that’s humorous since you need a time management system because you are already overscheduled. If you want to include these, just make sure they don’t serve as a distraction from necessary items. For example, you might enjoy surfing the net for collectible books but you don’t need to do that “C” item when you have an “A” list report due in four hours.

The Superhero Syndrome

How many items can you manage on a daily to-do list? It depends on whether each item is a one step process or multi-step process. With complex tasks, you may only be able to reasonably complete 3 or 4 “Must Do” items in a day. As you are adjusting to this time management technique, make a note by each item about how much time you expect to spend on this task.

Using Your Tools

You can create a paper to-do list or one on your computer, just as long as it’s easily accessible during the day. When an item is done, cross it off, make a checkmark beside it or in some way be able to see what’s done from what needs to be done. If you use an electronic to-do list, you can add color background for each level. The advantage of color-coding items is that you can quickly see how many yellow highlighted Must Do items are left compared with the green highlighted Need to Do items.

When Day is Done

At the end of the day, transfer any remaining important items to the proper category on the next day’s to-do list. When you finish the day and see most or all of the “Must Do” items finished and crossed off your list, it’s a great sense of relief and motivation to keep your time management system working for you.

About the author:   Deanna Maio, The SavvyGals Coach, teaches women business owners to stop wasting time and start making more money. With her coaching programs and speaking, she helps busy self-employed women get the information, structure, and support, they need to deal attract more clients, grow their businesses and having a fulfilling personal life at the same time. For more information on her programs and products, visit her website: www.savvygals.com or call 503-922-2688.

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One thought on “Get Your To-Do List Under Control”

  1. Brandie, Good tips. What do you suggest for the long-term tasks? I’m using Evernote for a to-do list but I seem to end up creating multiple lists and the lists get too long and then I can’t keep track of what’s hot and what’s not.

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