You already know that to-do lists help you get focused and organized throughout the day. Getting your disorganized thoughts on paper frees your mind and helps you to focus.
Organizing your thoughts and priorities helps to keep you motivated, relieving stress and anxiety.
Here are a few tips to help you create an effective to-do list:
- Clarify Priorities. It may help you to develop some sort of ranking system for your to-do list. Certainly every item on the list can’t be equally important. Perhaps using a number system and rank them from 1 to 5. Items ranked 1 might have a lower priority, while the 5s are tasks you should attend to first. Consider using 4 quadrants: Urgent and Important / Important but Not Urgent / Urgent but Not Important / Not Urgent or Important. This may help to clarify where you need to expend your energy.
- Pare Down the List. You need to complete tasks or part of tasks one step at a time. If you have 15 minutes to spare, find something on the list that you can complete in that time period. It’s common to tell yourself that 15 minutes is not enough time to do something, but all those 15-minute chunks add up to something huge. At the end of the day you’ll be surprised how much you’ve accomplished in small increments.
- Include Flex Time. Don’t make your list too rigid or packed with unreasonable goals, adding to your anxiety. Be sure to include some flexibility and breathing room in your day. If you don’t, you’ll be at risk of disappointment.
- Add in Something Fun. Is your to-do list filled with demanding tasks and energy drainers? Add in fun activities and tasks, too! When you add in a fun item it doesn’t feel like work. It may even feel like a break. When you return to the less desirable items, you’ll be more motivated to actually get them done.
- Don’t List Too Much. It’s vital not to overwhelm yourself. While some days might be action packed in order to reach certain deadlines, it is important to avoid this level of stress on a regular basis. If there’s too much on your plate, or you have to work too fast, you can’t possibly enjoy yourself and you’ll only end up frustrated and overwhelmed.
- Keep It Organized. Organized your list in a way that makes you feel comfortable. There are many options nowadays: digital devices such as your cell phone, PC, or other mobile devices work well for many. Some, like me, still enjoy using the old-fashioned pen and paper method. Find what works best for you. You don’t have to do it the same way your friends, colleagues, or the experts do it. This is your list. Use it to keep yourself organized with less stress and anxiety..