Advertising
Advertising

5 Practical Ways to Make Your To-Do List Work

5 Practical Ways to Make Your To-Do List Work

Your to-do list is the heart and mind of your daily work; it works like your personal assistant, or rather your own private Boss who tells what you should do and when you should do it. Without a written to-do list, you get stressed, you lose time, and you end up being unproductive and inefficient.

Therefore, to free up your brain, you have to make a clear and efficient to-do list. Think of it like your external brain, and start imagining how you can arrange it to make it as powerful as possible.

Find the right tool

The very first thing you have to do is to find the right tool to manage your to-do list. I highly recommend that you use an online task management application because they’re flexible, sharable, and they’ve already proven their efficiency in terms of productivity. Plus, most task management applications give you the opportunity to add content and due dates to your tasks, to delegate work, and to collaborate with your teammates.

Forget using post-its, whiteboards and paper to-do lists. You won’t be able to do anything efficiently with a to-do list written on a piece of paper.

Advertising

Organize and Prioritize

tasks list

    Once you’ve picked the right application for your to-do list, you need to organize your tasks. Your to-do list should be easy and practical to use.

    To get organized, you should first make sure that you only add the tasks that you’re actually going to work on in a reasonable amount of time. So if something you’re working on is complex, you should break it down into smaller tasks.

    Secondly, you need to prioritize your tasks. Always put the most important tasks at the top of your list. Prioritizing your tasks helps you focus on the most urgent/important things you have to get done.

    Advertising

    Add content

    task content

      After you create a task, you’ll need to enrich it by adding content so that when you’re ready, you’ll have all the resources you need to start working. Think of it like cooking: you first need to gather and prepare all the ingredients before you turn the oven on, right?!

      A task’s content can be anything you need, like a document, a note, an email, a link, a description or a list of subtasks. It’s all about adding everything you need to complete your work.

      Don’t forget that your to-do list is your personal assistant, and that the role of a personal assistant is to give you a maximum amount of information so you can do whatever it is you have to do easily.

      Advertising

      Besides, adding content to your to-do list helps you focus on your work so your workflow can be easily managed.

      Keep it short

      If you have too many tasks on your to-do list, you might feel overwhelmed before you even get started. To be efficient, your to-do list needs to be doable. In other words, it needs to be short so that you’re subconsciously motivated to start working.

      If your to-do list is too long, move your tasks to another day or week. The objective is to have a clear picture on what you have to do, and can do, today. Tomorrow is another day, and you don’t need to have those tasks in today’s field of vision.

      Some people say to keep your to-do list under 20 tasks, and others say no more than 3. It really isn’t a matter of numbers, but rather the nature of your tasks. Some things take a few minutes to get done, others hours. You need to feel comfortable with the size of your to-do list and be able to tell yourself, “I can definitely get all of this done today”.

      Advertising

      Make it collaborative

      The more we are, the merrier we will be, right? The same theory works with your to-do list.  If you keep it to yourself, you’ll have a harder time accomplishing your tasks.

      Therefore, when you’re choosing a task management app, you should make sure it’s collaborative. That way, you’ll be able to share ideas and get in sync with your coworkers. The idea is to get your teammates involved in your tasks and accomplish your work faster. If every member of your team is on the same page and using the the same information, your to-do list will work almost all by itself.

      More by this author

      How to Start a Remote Working Culture in Your Company 5 Marketing Disruptions to Anticipate in 2016 10 Bad Emails Habits You Need to Stop Doing Now 5 Practical Ways to Make Your To-Do List Work 10 Tools to Become a More Productive Marketer

      Trending in Productivity

      1 How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do 2 Do What You Love and Love What You Do to Achieve More 3 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Worthless 4 How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week 5 5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on September 22, 2020

      How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do

      How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do

      You have probably heard the success stories about people who wake up early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, and Olympic medalist Caroline Burckle all talk about the positive impact of waking up early on their lives.

      Even though many assign a portion of their success to waking up early, many find it difficult to make the switch. While most people know what needs to happen to change their life, they find then difficult to implement consistently. To understand how to wake up early, you need to tap into the wisdom of those already doing it.

      Here are the 6 things early risers do:

      1. Stop Procrastinating

      The first thing you need to do when you want to learn how to wake up early is to go to sleep earlier. Stop procrastinating. You will find it much easier to wake up when you are getting the proper amount of sleep. Set a bedtime that allows you to get 8-hours of sleep and hold yourself accountable.

      The problem most of you will have at first is how tired you will feel. If you are someone who goes to sleep after midnight, waking up by 6 a.m. will not be easy. The reason you need to push through that initial difficulty is that you are going to be very tired at the end of the day. Realistically, you probably would fall asleep at your desk or doze off on your lunch break. Either way, waking up early no matter how you feel will motivate you to go sleep at the proper time that night.

      Think of it as someone who procrastinated until the night before their project was due. Having done this myself, you do what you need to do to complete the project, whether that means working all night or cutting some corners because you don’t have time to triple-check your work.

      Advertising

      After you turn in your project, you feel both exhaustion and jubilation. After you make it through the workday and crash at home, you promise yourself you’ll never wait until the last minute again. This same feeling will happen when you force yourself to wake up early no matter what time you went to sleep. You are going to promise yourself you will go to bed at the right time.

      Most people don’t go to bed when they should because they know they will ultimately make it up in the morning.

      2. Pace Yourself

      If you want to start waking up a couple of hours earlier each day, you may not be able to make that change all at once. It stands to reason the more drastic the shift, the more difficult it will be.

      So, instead of trying to adjust your sleep pattern by several hours, start in 15-minute or 30-minute intervals.[1] If you wake up 30 minutes earlier each week, you will be a morning person by the end of the month. This may feel like you are drawing out your goal but in reality, you are accomplishing it much quicker than most. Most people who are naturally night owls find it difficult to completely change their sleep habits overnight.

      Think of it as someone who is trying to quit drinking coffee. Outside of the fact you may enjoy the taste of coffee, your body is used to operating with a certain amount of caffeine and sugar. Some will be able to quit overnight and their body will adjust accordingly. And if you are one of those people, then do what works for you.

      However, if you were to take an incremental approach, then you may first start drinking your coffee black. Then, you could switch to decaf before slowly lowering the amount of coffee you drink each day. As you can see, this approach will help minimize the feeling of withdrawal while getting the results you want.

      Advertising

      3. Watch Your Lighting

      Light reduces your body’s production of the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone. In practical terms, your body naturally wants to be awake when the sun is up and go to sleep when the sun is down. This is called your circadian rhythm.

      In the technology-driven world we currently live in, you likely look at a screen or two before bed. Studies show television and phone screens trick your body into thinking the sun is up. As a result, your body starts producing less melatonin. To help you fall asleep, you should stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed.

      This can also mean that if you want to wake up before the sun, looking at your screen when you wake up can help you to stay awake.

      Peter Balyta, the President of Education Technology for Texas Instruments says he wakes up at 5:20 a.m. and scans his emails before starting his day. This is also true for M.I.T. president L. Rafael Rief. He wakes up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and checks his phone for anything urgent.[2]

      4. Make It Worth Your Time

      Have you ever woken up early but went back to sleep because you didn’t have a reason to stay up? To put it another way, have you ever fallen asleep because you didn’t have anything better to do?

      If you want to be excited about going to sleep and waking up early, then you need to give yourself a reason to be excited. You can accomplish this by listing the three things you want to accomplish the next morning. Notice I said “want” and not “need” to accomplish. You don’t want to be dragging yourself into the next morning kicking and screaming.

      Advertising

      Your list should not only include what you want to accomplish but also why you want to accomplish it. If you want to take it a step further, list the consequences of not waking up early.

      People who have figured out how to wake up early are shown to be more successful, persistent, and proactive in their life. They tend to be happier and handle stress better. It is also shown that people who wake up early procrastinate less.[3] If you find any of these benefits something you want to add in your life, then waking up early is shown to help.

      5. Avoid Binging

      There is a difference between sleeping and getting a good night’s sleep. Sure, you can drink alcohol and fall asleep, but you will not be getting quality rest. You will wake up feeling as though you slept for only a couple hours.

      It is best to stop drinking at least 4 hours before bedtime. Binge drinking is known to impact your sleep-inducing melatonin hormone levels for up to a week. The same holds true with eating a large meal right before bed. It is not that your body can’t process food and sleep at the same time. The main concern has more to do with the possibility of indigestion or heartburn than anything else.

      If you find yourself dealing with either of these symptoms, then you may want to stop eating at least two hours before bed.

      6. Get the Blood Flowing

      Those who have mastered the technique of how to wake up early tend to start each morning with movement.

      Advertising

      Your first movement is to get out of bed. To help you get out of bed, have your alarm far enough away that you need to get up and turn it off. Before you allow yourself to contemplate going back to sleep, take a moment, and do 10 push-ups or 10 jumping jacks. Think of each exercise as you taking one step further from being able to go back to sleep.

      Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning. She starts each day by exercising. Her exercises include running, weight lifting, swimming, and cycling.

      You decide for yourself how you want to get your blood flowing. Whether you want to go on a walk, workout at the gym, or do something at home, make sure you are scheduling time to exercise.

      Final Thoughts

      The key to understanding how to wake up early is to recognize that it is heavily driven by the actions you take the night before. You will wake up early if you go to bed at a good time and get the proper amount of sleep.

      By taking the time to prepare yourself both mentally and physically each night, you can ensure you are positioned for success the next morning. Once you have taken the proper actions the night before, make sure you use that momentum to start your day, on time.

      The goal is to make the actions you want to take as easy as possible. The key to changing your life is to discover a way to have the wind at your back, going in the direction you want.

      More Tips on How to Wake up Early

      Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next