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Published on June 30, 2020

How to Organize Tasks With A Weekly To-Do List

How to Organize Tasks With A Weekly To-Do List

It takes commitment to remain focused and make your week productive. A research conducted by the University of California revealed that you need 30 minutes to refocus after being distracted on a task [1]. With so many distractions pulling at our attention, how can we complete our weekly to do lists?

With the introduction of new technologies and the popularization of remote work, you can expect more and more distractions. Meanwhile, it is possible to relieve yourself of pressure and burden when you master how to organize your chores, tasks, and responsibilities with a weekly to-do list.

What Is a To Do List?

A to do list is a schedule that itemizes what you need to and when you have to do it. The essence of a to do list is to enable you to simplify your life and not make it burdensome.

How to Prepare Weekly To Do Lists

Follow these steps to get yourself ready for the week ahead with a comprehensive to do list.

1. Select a Channel

It is important to find a medium that works for you. You can utilize a pen and paper or leverage digital applications in managing your to-do lists. However, research suggests that you can remember information better when you write by hand[2]. Nevertheless, find what helps motivate you more and stick with that.

2. Develop Multiple Lists

Your multiple lists should contain:

  • Master list
  • Weekly project list
  • HIT list

Your master list includes every task you want to achieve in the long-term. For instance, complete all Lifehack courses, clean out the bathtub, etc. Your project list contains all the tasks that demand your attention within the next seven days. And then, your high-impact list, or HIT list, includes tasks that you need to attend to within 24 hours.

Every evening, identify the items you need to move from your weekly to-do list to your HIT list for the next day.

3. Make It Simple

Your weekly to-do list should not be intimidating. You only have 24 hours. Thus, you can simplify your HIT list by highlighting the chores and responsibilities you want to complete today and divide them into two. Ten items are perfect for your HIT list.

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Don’t forget this!

The accumulation of your HIT list makes up your weekly to do list.

Begin your HIT list with 2 or 3 important tasks you need to carry out within 24 hours. That way, you don’t waste time cleaning the bathtub instead of completing the presentation that is due tomorrow morning.

4. Break the Goals Down

Instead of having an item such as “work on a kindle book,” you can be more specific by making your goals more manageable. That way, you will eliminate the fear factor. You could have something like: write the book outline on Monday, write the first chapter on Tuesday, and the next chapter the following day.

5. Include Detailed Information

You should support every item on your weekly to-do list with information to complete the task. For instance, if an item says “register for a course,” you should include the website and course title. That way, you save yourself the time of scouring for information later.

6. Time Every Item

You have 10,080 minutes each week to complete all the tasks on your weekly to do lists. It is reasonable to allocate time for every item on your list. For instance: Write the introduction from 9 am-12 pm, clean the bathtub from 4-5 pm, pick up some groceries at the supermarket from 5-6 pm. Once your time expires, you move on to the next item.

7. Establish Breaks

You need to rest a bit after cleaning the bathtub before setting out. You can allocate 15 minutes to relax your mind or prepare for the next task.

8. Make It Visible and Public

You can share your to-do list with your accountability partner. Also, post it on your sticky notes, or set up a digital calendar accessible by anyone on your team.

9. Allocate Time for Scheduling

It takes time to prepare your weekly to do lists. And the best approach is to schedule a time for that task. Block out your Friday afternoon for organizing items on your weekly to do lists.

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10. Start With a Fresh Slate

Don’t allow old tasks to clog up your schedule. Ensure you have a new list each week. Complete your HIT list each day so you don’t block your weekly project lists with old items.

Now, it is not enough to prepare your weekly to do lists; you need to master how to prioritize with the list for maximum productivity.

How to Prioritize Weekly To Do Lists

Use the following techniques to maximize your productivity through prioritization.

1. Use the Getting Things Done (GTD) Method

David Allen, a productivity expert and author, affirmed that you can be productive despite having a long to-do list. How you plan is what counts. The Getting Things Done technique enables you to focus on your Most Impactful Tasks (MITs) instead of the number of tasks.[3]

2. Focus on One Task at a Time

You are aware of which task needs urgent attention. All you need is to focus on that task before taking out the next.

It’s not a long list that kills, but multitasking.

If you choose not to multitask, you will realize that you can make notable progress on difficult projects. Not only that, your stress level will go down, and you will find more joy in the tasks you’re completing[4].

3. Evaluate Your Weekly Progress

It is not easy selecting a few important plans for each week. That’s why you need to reflect every weekend on what worked the previous week, and what did not.

Also, anytime you complete a task, don’t just tick it as “completed,” but label it as “Progress.”

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On Friday evening, assess your Progress list, and study every item. How could it be improved? Follow this process every week.

4. Ask for Help

Sometimes, things get out of hand. The best strategy is to request assistance from your teammates, managers, or accountability partner.

Avoid procrastinating on activities that go beyond your capabilities.

5. Learn to Say No

Sometimes, you feel compelled to consent to every request, and you would rather sacrifice all items on your to do list to say yes.

Say no[5] to things that your schedule and energy cannot accommodate. Do what counts towards your long-term objectives.

6. Use Friday Evening to Reflect

You should reflect on your week after work on Friday. That way, you can enjoy a worry-free weekend and kick-start the new week in the right direction. A lot of managers plan on Saturday evenings or Sunday evenings. Ensure you find the time that suits you.

7. Focus on Outcomes, Not the Method

Focusing on results helps you to determine how to assess your achievement. If you focus on the methods, you may find it difficult to say if an item has been achieved.

A result-oriented approach will enable you to mark your goal as “Progress.”

8. Share Your Productivity Strategy

When you share what you are working on with your teammates, it helps you enjoy a maximum level of support. Also, others will treat you as engaged.

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Furthermore, when you have actualized your goals, share the results with your team and inspire them to do the same.

9. Choose Themes for Your Week

If you have different tasks, you can divide your weekly to do list into five days of different work sections. Then, take out those tasks each week. Ensure you carry your teammates along on your day’s focus.

Jack Dorsey[6], Twitter’s CEO, was highly focused when he was doing 80-hours of work per week in two companies. He was exceptionally focused on planning his day, so he developed a theme for his week:

  • Monday: Attend to management issues
  • Tuesday: Work on products
  • Wednesday: Marketing, communications, and growth
  • Thursday: Developers and partnerships
  • Friday: Corporate culture

Steve Jobs was also productive due to his consistent plan. He held executive meetings on Monday, while he dedicated Wednesdays to advertising and marketing.

10. Respect Others’ Time

No one likes to be interrupted, be it via meetings or emails. Respect others’ time: no texts, email, or a call for unnecessary meetings. When you do this, others will be more likely to respect your time, helping you avoid unnecessary distractions.

Final Thoughts

Weekly to do lists can be a great tool to keep you accountable and on task. Use your to do lists to maximize your time by achieving a smaller set of important tasks and doing your best.

Practice prioritization by completing your most important tasks first and feel productive immediately. This will motivate you to push through the rest of the week.

More Tips on Creating Weekly To Do Lists

Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 29, 2020

19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

19 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day:

1. Todoist

    Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

    Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

    If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

    Download: Todoist

    2. 1Password

      You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

      1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

      You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

      Download: 1Password

      3. Bear

        Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

        It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

        Download: Bear

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        4. Hazel

          Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

          For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

          Download: noodlesoft

          5. Alfred

            Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

            For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

            It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

            Download: Alfred

            6. TextExpander

              TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

              For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

              An individual account is $3.33 per month.

              Download: TextExpander

              7. Backblaze

                If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                Download: Backblaze

                8. Keyboard Maestro

                  Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                  Download: Keyboard Maestro

                  9. Snagit

                    There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                    Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                    10. Bartender

                      Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                      If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                      Download: Bartender

                      11. Otter

                      Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                      Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                      Download: Otter

                      12. Flux

                        Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                        Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

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                        Download: Flux

                        13. PDFpen

                        If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                        PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                        Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                        14. OmniFocus

                          OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                          It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                          A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                          Download: OmniFocus

                          15. Franz

                            It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                            Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                            Download: Franz

                            16. MindNode

                              If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                              The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                              Download: MindNode

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                              17. Focus

                                The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

                                This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                Download: Focus

                                18. CleanMyMac

                                  Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                  Download: CleanMyMac

                                  19. Grammarly

                                    A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                    This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                    A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                    Download: Grammarly

                                    The Bottom Line

                                    These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                    Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                    More to Boost Productivity

                                    Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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