To-do lists are an important part of my daily life, even more important than my morning cup of coffee.
But to-do lists can actually be counterproductive, stifling your productivity. You can become frustrated and overwhelmed making lists and not actually accomplish anything on them.
Here are five to-do list tips to keep your to-do list from sabotaging your success:
Get real. I mean it. One of the biggest culprits of to-do list failure is creating a list that realistically would take closer to six months to complete rather than 24 hours. An overambitious list stifles motivation and increase frustration.
Donâ€™t bite off more than you can chew. Instead, make a list of the six most-important tasks you want to complete that day (or the next day). Write them down in order of importance, and start from there.
Six before sleep. Writing my list before bed has immensely improved my productivity (and my sleep). Before I made the habit of writing the next dayâ€™s to-do list before bed, my mind stubbornly resisted sleep. It wandered and circled in an attempt to cling to all the things I needed to do the next day fearing sleep would wipe them from memory. With a completed to-do list before laying your head down to sleep, your mind will be free to relax knowing it doesnâ€™t have to hang on to a mental list.
Done! Check off every item you put on your list each day. Put a line through it, a checkmark beside it, or your favorite way of marking it as completed. Mark it in green (never red). Green sends the message â€œGo!â€ to your subconscious, encouraging you to keep going. After youâ€™ve marked off the tasks you didnâ€™t complete, move them over to your list for the next day.
Chunk it. Part of getting real about your to-do lists is breaking big tasks down into manageable chunks. Letâ€™s use writing a book as an example. If you put â€œwrite my bookâ€ as one task for the day, youâ€™re in trouble. When you chunk the task of writing your book,Â youâ€™ll get a list that looks more like this.
- Research topics I want to write about
- Outline book
- Spend 30 minutes writing first chapter from outline
Celebrate! At the end of the day when youâ€™re marking items off your list, pat yourself on the back. An effective to-do list habit will help you achieve goals that without specific, daily action would have remained a dream or a just good idea.
Do you love lists? Iâ€™d love to hear your own to-do list tips. What works for you?
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