You’re Doing Your To-Do List Wrong. Here’s How to Fix It
Staying organized while knocking out daily to-dos isn’t easy. Whether you’re a traditional pen and printable to-do list kinda gal, or you’ve gone the to-do list app route, with the right tools, there actually is order at the end of your seemingly never-ending list. And reaching the end is easier than you might think, according to Reina Pomoroy, a life and business success coach who works with creative entrepreneurs.
“The difference… is the intentionality with which you do something,” Reina explains. If you’re just filling time, or you’re really not sure, go the brain dump route, says Reina. “Set a five-minute timer and just write down everything that’s going on in your head (some people like to doodle). If there are items in the brain dump that need to be included on a to-do list in the future, you can take a minute to circle or highlight the things you want to add to your list at the end,” Duly notes.
Once your list includes only things you actually need to accomplish on a deadline, start building the “today” list — with only things you can take care of that day. Reina recommends that all the to-dos on your list should take less than an hour. “If an item you want on your list takes more than an hour, that’s what I consider a ‘project,’” she explains, “and you should break that project down to smaller chunks.”
How to Improve Your To-Do List
1. Be realistic. Set a five-task limit for the day. Really, it’s best if it’s two or three things to tackle on your to-do list in a day.” Need to knock out more? On a big “gotta do” day, Reina says it’s okay to stick five things on your list, keeping in mind that there are only so many hours to work with.
2. Get the timing down. Knowing how long each task takes is crucial to better time management. “Write out how long each item on your to-do list will take. Plug those into your schedule,” Reina shares, adding that this is her modified version of block scheduling, AKA the practice of assigning certain daytime hours to certain tasks.
3. Treat yo’self. “I’m totally for people giving themselves a high five after completing a series of to dos!” she adds. “You did something! You were productive!” Now it’s time for a quick break — and maybe a snack while you’re at it.
4. Do one last thing, once you’re done for the day. “Sit down with your calendar every school night” — yep, still applies! — “to look at the day ahead,” Reina says. That means checking out upcoming appointments and asking how much time you have available, and then scheduling to-do items into the empty slots. “Own those tasks appointments,” she goes on. “Don’t miss that appointment to be on Facebook.” (Um, get out of our heads, please!) “Also, schedule breaks!” she mentions. “If you don’t get everything done, ask yourself what happened and be honest about it! It’s okay to try again tomorrow.”
Got any tips for improving your to-do list? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
(Photo via Getty)