Most of you reading this post have made at least one to-do list this year.
Some of you made one this morning.
According to a LinkedIn survey of professionals, as much as 63% of those questioned keep a to-do list.
Yet as much as 41% of all to-do items are never completed.
If to-do lists are so popular, why are we so bad at them and how to fix this?
Analyse Your Task List
If you have close to 100 tasks that need to be completed at the beginning of every week, you’re in big trouble.
You need to act RIGHT NOW.
Then start with the easy bucket – Not Urgent & Not Important.
OK now kill it with fire.
Everything that you’ve put in there just wastes your time and ultimately can be described as busy work.
With Urgent & Not important tasks, always aim to reschedule them or delegate them to someone else.
The rest is easy. Focus on Urgent & Important first, to work with tasks from the bucket where real productivity happens – Not Urgent & Important.
Break The Projects Into More Manageable Tasks
This sounds like an easy one, but too often I see to-do lists that say “do X”. As you spend more time researching the task and learning more about it, you’ll find that time to complete X can easily jump from 2 days to 2 weeks.
It’s best to leave the olympics to the athletes and break these tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
This way you’ll be able to achieve something meaningful every single day and get the necessary momentum towards completing the project.
Tackle The Task You Hate First
You’ll often find yourself wondering which task you should begin with.
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. – Mark Twain
Complete the most complicated, least pleasant or outright worst task first. You’ll take it out of the way and focus on better things.
Factor in Wasting Time & Interruptions
Whenever you are estimating the amount of time that you need to get something done, always account for wasting time and interruptions.
Don’t plan your time like you’ll be spending 100% of it on working towards completing your goals.
And there’s only one thing you can do about it this.
FACTOR. IT. IN.
Estimate how many interruptions will come from small talk with your co-workers, how much time will be wasted on Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, browsing reddit or jezebel.
Feel Good About Yourself At The End Of The Day
We talked about to-do lists, but what’s a to-done list and why you positively need to have one?
At iDoneThis, we used to have a to-do task feature, and we discovered that only 15% of dones started as to-do items. — Janet Choi from iDoneThis
Think about it.
As much as 85% of all tasks completed during the day were not recorded in the original to-do list for the day.
I’ve realized that without the Anti-To-Do List, whenever I was doing a task not on my to-do list, no matter how important and useful the task (and many unexpected tasks lead to massive returns!), I generally always had on my mind that it was detracting from the time I had for the items on my to-do list, and that it didn’t “count.” – Joel Gascoigne from Buffer
You can easily do this too with free service like idonethis, by listing the tasks that you have completed during the day. They will even send you a daily email reminder to log your completed tasks.
Never feel bad about completing tasks not on your to-do list again.
Over to You
Are you using to-do lists in your daily life? Did you find any of these tips helpful? What other techniques are you using to stay productive? Let me know in the comments section below.
Yuri is a Content Crafter at Sellfy. He’s focused on inbound marketing, copywriting, CRO and growth.