I’ve been using a to-do list since I can remember, whether it’s on my phone or in a notepad, and it always seems to keep me on track every day.
If you’re a C or S style personality you may love the structure of a list, and may just need a little more modifications to come up with your best style. If you’re an I or D style personality you may need more help when it comes to staying on-task. If you don’t know your personality style, you should take this DISC Personality Style assessment - a part of StudentKeys – a dedicated tool to unlock your potential and to better understand your personal strengths, and limitations, to improve organizing your day-to-day life.
Making a to-do list is helpful, but it can also show how overwhelming your day may actually be. Along with making lists for years, I’ve also spent my fair share ignoring a to-do list because of how long it had become. Here are a few tips I’ve found out to make sure your to-do list doesn’t become a “don’t do” list.
Knowing what you have to do is extremely helpful, especially when there’s a lot on your plate, but if you put things as massive tasks it will seem impossible to finish the job. Instead of putting “run errands” or “write term paper” break these up into more smaller, manageable tasks. Try and list out what needs done in simple steps, like “go to bank” for errands or “write a draft” for the term paper.
Instead of listing out everything you have to do in your life, try to list tasks by categories. Make separate lists for work, life and extracurriculars so you know when to do what kind of task.
If you hate leaving your house or wasting your time driving, then this one's for you. Make sure to group things by where they’re at. So if you have to go out for certain items, try to plan a route out in advance so you’re not wasting gas or making an unnecessary trip. This can also help when you need to look good for certain events.
Making a list is helpful, but knowing when to do everything can help even more. If you do specific tasks often, then you can plan in advance how long everything will take and make it fit into your busy lifestyle. Make sure to check out the importance of scheduling and calendar blocking in this article.
Lists not only show you what you have to do, but they can also show you what you’ve already accomplished. This is why marking off things you’ve completed is so important. Plus, it helps give you a sense of accomplishment.
Make sure to try and make this a part of your lifestyle. By making a list as you complete your current list, this can become a habit.
What is the importance of writing something down if you can’t see it? There is none. Make sure to keep your list on-hand -- either in a notebook, a piece of scrap paper, or digitally. Always bring it with you. This can be especially helpful when you have extra time on your hands, and to make sure you don’t forget to pick up something you need.
A good way to have a great subconscious association with your list is to reward yourself for finishing tasks. This can be with a shopping trip, some extra free time, a nice glass of wine, or any other way you deem valuable. Just make sure not to overdo it and keep going with your next list of tasks.
If you found this article helpful, make sure to look at “Set Goals with Calendar Blocking.”