Three days ago, I had a mini debate with one of my friends over how effective using “to do lists” can be in planning our daily tasks. What led to this argument is very simple. We have some things in common; he is a student, blogger, freelance writer and programmer like I am.
He complains his daily 24 hrs is not enough and he seems to get many left over tasks each day. He asked how I deal with my tasks as we’re almost into the same things.
I simply told him how using “to do lists” has been greatly influencing my daily productivity. He started laughing and in the following minutes we’re into a mini debate of whether “to do” lists are effective or not.
Now if you’re also like my friend who hasn’t yet realised how potent using “to do list” can be in accomplishing more tasks daily, this post will show you how powerful they can be and how to use them effectively to yield desirable results.
Even many people who understand how powerful these task lists can be still don’t know how to use them to yield the best results.
I’ve broken it into steps according to how to go about it in your daily 24 hrs.
Step 1: Know when to write your tasks list.
Writing down your tasks is the very first action you’ll always need to take in planning your day. The time to do this is up to you but I always write mine a night before the next day.
While this works perfectly for me, you can decide to shift yours to early morning of the next day. But the truth is it is very advisable to list your daily tasks nights before.
The reason is, when you wake up the following morning, you day has started already. The clock has started ticking. You tasks has begun therefore it is wise to write your list a night before.
Just wake up and set into action! The very first task!
Take note: When drafting your list, make sure you place tasks in order of their priority. Place the most important ones first.
Where to draft your list?
Before, I used to draft my tasks on a special “task jotter”. I carry it with me everywhere I go until I decided to switch from this to my mobile phone.
My mobile phone has a “to do list” function so check if yours has too. Since I’m always with my phone everywhere I go, it’s more convenient and effective using this approach.
I advise you stick to this rather than the first idea of carrying a jotter.
Step 2: Check through your list in the morning
Before you begin any task for the day, remember to firstly review your written list. This is good because you’re likely to have omitted some very important task the night before when writing the list.
Checking through will help to detect this and quickly correct it. Apart from this, you may in the process remember one more thing you need to add, therefore insert it to its appropriate place in the list.
You may also discover that some lists carry more importance than others; this will help you to adjust them to the necessary position.
Step 3: Set Alarms for each Task
Of course you aren’t a machine; you just need something to remind you of your tasks. Why I don’t buy the idea of carrying a jotter is also because of how to remember my tasks.
Using a “task list jotter” requires me to keep looking at it every time just to remember the next task.
As a student and programmer, most of the time I find it difficult to remember that I’ve other things to do when programming really get interesting, there are many classes to attend, many posts to write, many books to read all in one day! Only alarms help me out.
I take the pain of setting alarms with my mobile phone for each task especially the most important ones just to accomplish all tasks. This is a proven way that is helping me a lot and I can’t stop doing it.
Step 4: Begin each task as written in your list
The clock is ticking! Time waits for no man. Start with your tasks and only approach them in their order of priority.
I remember a course I took in high school where my teacher taught the class about drawing up a “scale of preference”, doing things the in the order of which is the most important first.
Don’t start with the least important task but if there are some tasks that requires just little time and effort, you can quickly do them and cross them off the list.
Step 6: Try to avoid Emergency tasks
Of course, emergency issues will spring up. Some other unplanned matters will come your way. People will want you to help them with some tasks you weren’t informed about before.
The best thing is to learn how to say “no” to some requests that may disrupt your plan for the day. Tell them how occupied you’re. Only respond to request you consider very important and less time consuming.
This is not an act of wickedness but a way of disciplining yourself for better productivity.
A “yes” to every request is a “yes” to achieving less that day.
The final step is to cross off all accomplished tasks from the ‘to do” list. If you weren’t able to finish the entire task that day, write the undone ones first in your list of the next day tasks and give them the highest priority.
Over to You
This is my own way of effectively completing my daily tasks, if you’re like my friend I mentioned in the beginning and you’ve some reasons which makes you think using “to do” lists is ineffective, please feel free to point out your argument and let’s check it out.