Advertising
Advertising

Ditch Your To-Do List and Be More Productive

Ditch Your To-Do List and Be More Productive

Have you ever been a slave to your to-do list and were almost always frazzled at how colossal it had become, but still you couldn’t stop writing every little thing down? I used to picture my life spinning out of control without my to-do list, but in reality, it was spinning out of control because of my list. I needed a new, less cluttered, and more effective method, so I ditched the list.

Believe it or not, ditching your to-do list can actually free you up and make you even more productive. But how can you get more done if you don’t keep a list of what needs to be done? It’s simple: pay attention to the world, not a sheet of paper. Below are some of ways in which productivity can improve without the list and the advantages of post-to-do-list life:

Advertising

The Advantages of Ditching Your To-Do List

You Don’t Procrastinate

I always wondered how people who don’t use to-do lists remember all the tasks they need to complete if they aren’t reminded of them constantly. Then one day it hit me: people who don’t keep a to-do list get things done as they come up. They don’t put tasks off for later by writing them down; they see something that needs accomplishing and they just do it.

A to-do list is just an excuse to procrastinate. Instead of living with that excuse, ‘non-to-do-listers’ complete chores as they arise. If they see dirt, they clean it up. If they have a work assignment due, they work on it. If they think of someone they haven’t spoken with in a while, they call them. Because if they don’t do it then, they’ll forget it and it will never get done.

Advertising

You Don’t Stop When the List Stops

How rewarding it is when you’ve crossed out every item on your to-do list. There’s no better reason to sit back, relax, and reward yourself for having accomplished everything. In order to clear your list, you worked hard even after you hit the wall, and when you finished, you were completely beat. But it doesn’t have to be so exhausting. Don’t let the list dictate your life; if you have high energy, go out there and see what can be taken care of, and when you hit your wall, take a break and relax. You’ll eventually establish an even flow of productivity that keeps you churning out great work.

You’re More Perceptive

It happens to every to-do lister. We get so wrapped up in our list that we start writing things down we do regularly, like if we straighten our homes daily, we write “Clean” on the list. It feels like we’re cleaning every day, because we cross it out every day. But instead of being receptive to the world around us, we’re ignoring some of the bigger issues. If we think we’re already cleaning by simply straightening, we tend to let the more infrequent major scrubbing and dousing that needs attention go unnoticed.

Advertising

Don’t lose sight of what actually needs doing in order to fulfill what you think needs to be done. If you don’t keep a list, you’ll be more attentive to the world around you. Chores will call to you, and you’ll be able to listen.

No More Mocking

Once you’ve abandoned the list, the things that can’t be done or simply aren’t done won’t mock you. I had items on my list that were months away from being able to be completed, but there they were, every day, calling out to me from the little lined paper hanging on my refrigerator door. Once I let go of the list, I filled out my calendar to reflect the tasks in the future and finally felt the chains of the list lifted.

Advertising

It Allows for Spontaneity

Our days are dynamic, and so are our moods. Sometimes we’re just not in the mood to be completing chores all day, and we’d rather go to the beach or read a good book on the couch. Sometimes we just want to curl up in sweatpants and watch television until our heads feel numb. And that’s okay — that’s a part of living. Go with your intuition every once in a while. When you’re older, you’ll never regret the days you decided to travel, to surprise a family member, the day you tried something new, the long walks you took, or the times you relaxed in the sunshine. But you’ll certainly forget the days you spent slaving over your list of chores. So allow for those fluctuations of mood that take us to new places, those unexpected dips and bends that remind us life is much greater than the list.

More by this author

8 Tricks To Be More Confident for Your Interview Ditch Your To-Do List and Be More Productive 8 Signs You May Be Losing Your Job Soon

Trending in Productivity

1 How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster 2 11 Ways to Be Productive And Happy At Once 3 What Is a Routine? 9 Ways Routines Make Your Life Easier 4 What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100% 5 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 18, 2019

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

How do we manage that?

I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

    After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
    • She could publish all her articles on time
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

    Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

    Advertising

    1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

      To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

      Low Cost + High Benefit

      Advertising

      Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

      Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

      High Cost + High Benefit

      Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

      Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

      Low Cost + Low Benefit

      This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

      These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

      High Cost + Low Benefit

      Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

      Advertising

      For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

      Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

        After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

          And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

          Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

          Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

          What to do in these cases?

          Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

          For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

          Advertising

          Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

            Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

            The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

            By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

            And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

            Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

            Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

            More to Boost Productivity

            Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

            Read Next