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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 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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