You have Post-It notes all over your desktop at work, and scraps of paper beneath magnets covering your fridge. All of these are tasks you have to accomplish within a certain window of time, but you can’t even keep them all straight because you’re so overwhelmed.
It’s simple to keep everything straight so that you look polished and pulled together. Follow these steps to complete tasks on your overwhelming to do list, and you won’t be unprepared or forget another meeting or event.
1. Keep one list
It’s easy to write down things as you think of them on Post-It notes, the backs of receipts, and any scrap of paper you can find. Having a handful of papers to keep track of is just another task added to your to-do list! Keep everything together on one sheet of paper, either in a work notebook, on a page you keep in your wallet, or in the notes section of your phone. This way you’ll be able to keep track of everything in one place, both what you need to do and what you’ve accomplished.
2. Write down everything you need to do
And I mean every little thing. From putting a letter in the mailbox, to reheating leftovers for dinner, or even cutting your toenails! Writing down every task you need to accomplish ensures that you won’t forget anything. Also, it gives you more opportunities to put a thick red line through something on your list, and who doesn’t get inspired by seeing a lot of marked off tasks? It’ll make you feel like you can finish the rest with no problem.
3. Prioritize the list
It is especially to prioritize when you’re listing every little thing! The work deadline may be more important than baking cookies for a new neighbor. Write your most pressing tasks at the top of the list, so you’ll see them each time you check. If it helps, categorize tasks into levels of priority. Type A tasks are urgent, like putting the utility bill in the mail or sending back a permission slip with your child. Type B tasks need to be done as soon as possible, but have a little leeway in terms of time. Type C tasks would make your life easier if they get done, like putting those extra clothes in the attic.
4. Break daunting tasks into manageable pieces
If you have a big project due on Monday, don’t keep writing it on your to-do list and putting it off because it seems too major. Break it into smaller tasks. Looking up topics could be one step, and finding three research sources could be the next. Keep breaking large tasks into manageable bits to ensure you’ll get them all done on time, without stressing yourself out too much.
5. Write down your goals
Your to-do list doesn’t have to be all business! Don’t forget to include what you’ll achieve once you get your list cleared. All those small tasks build up to mean you’ll finish a presentation for work, which might make you eligible for a promotion.
Your goals don’t have to be serious or job-related. Will finishing all your small tasks mean you have time to watch a movie before bed? Go out to dinner with friends this weekend? Don’t forget the fun things you’ll get to do once you’re not bogged down by what you have to do.
6. Keep it short and simple!
Waking up every morning to a long to-do list is just going to make it harder to get down to business. There’s nothing more disheartening than knowing you’ll never be able to finish everything you’re supposed to. Look over your list and make sure you really need to write that book review today. If you can wait and work on more over the weekend, try and keep your days freer to tackle necessary tasks.