To Do Lists

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Since we can often feel overwhelmed by the amount work we need to do, one of the easiest ways things we can do is create to do lists. Creating a list ensures that tasks are written down in one place and is easily referenced later. You don’t have to use a typical to do list, just as long as you can manage the tasks you have written down and prioritize them as needed.

Use a Day Planner

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A day planner is a great tool to help you manage your time and stay on top of projects and job lists. It’s handy to carry with you and keep within arm’s reach. When making your central to do list, your day planner can be used for keeping all of your reminders and notes in one place, which can make it your central source for your information. The key is to update it regularly and to use it every day.

Tips for having a day planner:

  • Put contact information in the front of it
  • Update it regularly and reference it everyday
  • Utilize the ‘notes’ sections

Finish What You Start

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When we complete a task or project, we get a sense of completion and accomplishment, which can make us feel great about ourselves. But when we drop a project or fail to complete it, it can make us feel depressed and bleak. Completing something that you’ve taken the effort to start also helps you to become more productive and ensures that things are done on time (whether it is your deadline or someone else’s). Also, when you complete something all the way through the first time, it saves you from having to come back later and try to finish it then!

Focus on the Important

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By now you’re keeping several to do lists and endless tallies in your head or even writing some down. Even though you’ve established your project’s priority, sometimes we can lose sight of the big picture and will stray from the main path. It is essential to keep focus on the important aspects of your to do list, whether it’s finishing something on time or making sure you get the right data for the report. If you come across a task that does not coordinate with your larger goals, put it aside for now and keep focus on what you need to do to get your things done. If you have to, limit yourself to a few important tasks to focus on first before moving on to the rest. Recognize what tasks are important enough to focus on now, and which ones can wait until a later time.

Remember, anyone can make a to-do list with lots of check marks and bullets, but getting the things done will seem endless if you lack focus and determination.

Do Quick Tasks Immediately

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When we make our to-do list, there is normally a variety of chores and tasks to complete. Some are more important than others and some will take more time than others. While looking at your list, make note of things you can do quickly and wouldn’t take up much of your time. Do these tasks right away so that you can quickly cross them off of your to do list and give yourself a pat on the back. When you finish these tasks quickly and do them right away, it leaves more room for you to focus on more complicated or lengthy tasks and projects.

Sample ‘quick tasks’:

  • Filing paperwork
  • Posting reminders and notices
  • Sending follow up emails

Case Study

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David is reviewing his schedule lately and realized he has been missing several important appointments and meetings, while also not accomplishing anything on his to do list. He thought about what he could do to help improve his productivity and memory skills. The first thing he did was buy a calendar for his house and a small day planner to carry with him. He went through his weekly and monthly schedule and wrote down everything that needed to be remembered. He made a list of projects he had recently started, but never finished, and made a plan on how to complete them so that they would not linger on his list any longer. When he made his to do list for his home, he marked three things that needed to be done urgently. David then marked the top four tasks that he could do right away and decided to tackle those first. Now that he had his tasks and projects organized, David felt like he had a better handle on his schedule and time.