productivity tip

The Secrets to Creating Effective To-Do Lists

Our lives are full and on any given day you probably have a million things on your mind.  One way I love to decrease all that mind clutter is to write it down on a to-do list.  Writing it down signals my brain that I will get it taken care of and I don’t have to worry or think about it anymore.  So, what are the secrets to creating effective to-do lists?

 

The Secrets to Creating Effective To-Do Lists

write a daily to do list

Make Tasks Specific

 Make sure you are specific enough that you can accomplish the task in one day.  If you have a large project like sorting all of your photos.  Break that project down into bite-size daily pieces.  Little by little work adds up, especially when you give yourself the grace to do a little every day.  Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, what task can you do today that you will thank yourself for tomorrow?  What will move your needle in the right direction?  Put that on your to-do list. 

 

Do A Brain Dump.

Start by listing off all the things you need to.  If you are spring cleaning, what are all the areas you need to clean?  Write it all down first.  Then, work from that list to create. your daily to-do lists.

 

Make A Manageable List.

Keep the number of to-do list items manageable, preferably no more than 5 but ideally 3.  There’s nothing more defeating than creating a list and not completing it.  Depending on the season of life, choose a manageable number of items.  

If you have a bunch of items to do,  make a long-range to-do list.  Then, pick more time-sensitive items to do first and then come back to those bigger lists to pick for your daily list.

 

secrets to effective to do lists

 

Keep Your List Visible.

Choose a spot to keep your list.  I like to keep it in a weekly planner (like this) so that I can easily see what needs to be accomplished.  When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.  The to-do list is only effective if you can see it.

 

Do the Item that’s Taking up Your Mind space First.

You know that thing you can’t stop thinking about that you need to do but you just keep putting off.  Just do that first and get it out of the way.  

 

Write Your To-Do List Down on Paper.

There’s something magical that happens when we actually put pen to paper and record our to-do list.  I have a digital calendar just like the rest of you but I have a weekly print planner open on my desk and write it down.  Studies show we are 2-3 times more likely to complete a task when we write it down.

 

Enjoy Crossing It Off.

When you complete a task, cross it off.  I don’t know about you, but it feels good to cross things off.  Sometimes, I add items to my to-do list I have already done just so I can cross it off!

 

Move Undone Items to Next Day.

If you don’t get all the items marked off your list, don’t beat yourself up. 

At the end of the day, move undone items to the next day.  Start with those items tomorrow.  Then, add to your list for the next day that way you can hit the ground running the next day when you have pockets of open time!

 

Remember to Delegate.

When we were kids, we would enjoy a family breakfast on Saturday mornings and my dad would pull out a napkin and write down our weekly chores on it.  Then, he would assign us each a job.  Many hands make light work and often times we assume we have to do it all.  Is there something on the list, you can delegate to someone else? 

 

Your Worth is Not In the To-Do List

When I first stayed home after a full-time job, I literally was lost.  It’s hard to measure success as a mom and so I turned to my to-do list. If I completed those things it was an effective day if I didn’t well then it was a bad day.  Never mind the fact that all the things I DID do.  

Remember, although todo lists are an extremely effective tool to increase productivity and help you to use your time purposefully, what you do or don’t check off a list does not define you!  Some days just don’t go how you expect them to go.  Remember, just move it to the next day!

 

to do list tips and tricks

 

Just remember this when it comes to creating effective to-do lists…

Be specific, keep it manageable, write it down on paper, and don’t forget to delegate.  While your worth is not defined on what you do or don’t accomplish on your to-do list, it is an effective tool to keep you on task, motivated and reaching toward those goals.  

If you are feeling like you don’t have enough time, check out my #1 productivity tip that will change your mindset when it comes to time.  Read more here.

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The secret to create effective to do lists

The Simple Productivity Tip That Will Change Your Life

We live in a fast-paced world and our to-do list seems to be growing faster than we can check items off the list.  Not to mention there’s no time.  Or is there?  Setting a timer and getting to work is the #1 simple productivity tip that changed my life.  It can change yours too, I promise.

Maybe you need to get caught up on laundry, you need to sort paper clutter, clear your inbox or clean the kitchen.  Whatever the case may be, you just push the task to the side for when you have more time.  Meanwhile, that task stays open in your brain along with the long list of other to-do items.  It’s time to check those tasks off the list for good with this simple productivity tip.

 

set a timer - holding a timer

 

Set a Timer.

The other day as I was unloading the dishwasher, suddenly my plastic containers no longer fit into the cabinet.  I spent a few minutes fighting with the items to get them all in so the door would shut before I realized I just needed to take care of it.  My kids were eating breakfast so it was the perfect opportunity.  I set a 5-minute timer and got to work.  

By the time the timer beeped, I had gotten rid of 50% of my plastic containers and my cabinet door easily closed.  I was so excited and energized.  I couldn’t believe it took so little time.  I suddenly was thinking of the other little nagging tasks I “didn’t have time for” and wondered if I could get those done by setting a timer.

Do you have a block of time?  It could be 5 minutes or 20 minutes.   Set a timer for a small amount of time (20 minutes or less) and get to work. 

The Key is You Are Focused.

Take a look at your to-do list, set that timer and get to work.  Don’t stop and look at the phone or get distracted by other tasks, just focus on the task at hand for the amount of time you set the timer for.  Most of us have some sort of competitive nature coursing through our veins.  Even on a very simple level, racing a timer gives us a little more motivation to get a job done and stay focused.

A Small Success Propels You Forward.

People that set a timer to get things done feel a sense of accomplishment at the conclusion of the task.  Thy are then more motivated to pursue another task.  One small success propels you to take on more tasks and little by little progress adds up!

 

productivity tip - woman holding a timer

 

Use Throw Away Minutes.

The #1 excuse people have for letting things go is they don’t have time.  However, we all have those throwaway minutes in our day.  Those minutes between activities or tasks.  We usually pick our phone up and fall down the rabbit trail of social media.  Instead, set a timer and use those 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there to be productive. 

The Timer Works For Kids Too.

This simple productivity tip doesn’t just work for you, it’s perfect for kids too.  At night before the kid’s bedtime, we set a 5-minute timer and do a quick tidy of the house as a family.  The kids love to race the clock and many hands make light work.  We get a lot done in just 5 minutes.  Sometimes, to celebrate we will have a little dance party before bed since the family room floor is clear.

Things Don’t Take As Long As Long As Think They Do.

A friend told me the other day she dreaded doing the laundry because it took so much time.  Then, she timed herself.  She found it actually took less than a 15-minute timer to fold and put a load of laundry away.  We think things take so much longer so we put it off and then all that deferred work does take way more time.  

Are you ready to try this simple productivity tip and set a timer?  I promise you once you try it, you will see how it truly does change your mindset and your life.

 

Wanting more?  Check Out These Posts

5 Excuses Why You Aren’t Decluttering & How to Shift Your Mindset

10 Steps to Cleaning Out Your Clothes Closet

 

 

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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the secret life changing productivity tip

 

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