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7 Expert-Approved Ways to Write a Better To-Do List

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http://mentalfloss.com/article/94735/7-expert-approved-ways-write-better-do-list

mentalfloss.com

7 Expert-Approved Ways to Write a Better To-Do List
When feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of tasks ahead of you, sit down, take a breath, and write a to-do list. This isn't just a sneaky form of procrastination: Studies have shown that we're more likely to achieve our goals when we commit them to paper.

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1. Time-Blocking

Time-blocking consists of assigning individual tasks to manageable time slots.

Instead of writing out short tasks alongside hours-long tasks on your list for the day and hoping you ha...

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2. If/then Lists

To set reasonable goals make a list for high-energy days and another for when you are reluctant to work. Both lists should follow an “if/then” model.

The first lists should have th...

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3. Eisenhower Matrix

An Eisenhower Matrix breaks a to-do list into the four categories below:
  1. Has items that are both urgent and important, is to be tackled immediately.
  2. Items that are ...

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4. Drawing

It’s fine to use your own shorthand to write to-do lists as long as you can decipher it later. Consider doodling quick images to get your message across.

One study found that words...

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5. One-Three-Five List

A one-three-five list looks at task size, instead of time or urgency. Using it you can make more informed decisions when urgent tasks pop up and better prioritize your other work. To make one:

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6. Kanban Board

A Kanban board helps you keep your day organized by visualizing the tasks ahead. To make one:
  • Start by finding a board, digital or otherwise. Keep in mind that the tasks will ...

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7. Could-Do List

You can make a "could-do" list to weigh the importance of optional tasks. To do that:
  • Make a worksheet with columns for tasks, task duration, expenses, task desirability (scaled one ...

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The Not-to-do List

A list of tasks you simply don't do: You delete them, delegate them, outsource them or simply say no when they try to find their way on your to-do list:

  • Things you want to say no
  • Distractions from being productive
  • Regular tasks you can delete, delegate, or outsource
  • Other people's responsibility
  • Small projects that get way on bigger projects
  • Emotionally draining tasks
  • Bad habits
  • Stuff that doesn't need to be done
  • Things that are out of control
  • Everything else that you can systematically eliminate and bring a bigger margin into your life.

Not-to-do List and Templates

When people ask you personally or via email something that you are struggling to decline, use templates. Templates are standard response you use to everyone. With the use of these, you refuse them politely without offending them. Also,  it saves you time and there's less emotional pressure compared to writing a decline every time.

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In need of a makeover

A to-do list can be helpful but is often not used successfully. If you end the day with things undone or if you regularly carry tasks forward, you need a to-do list makeover.

Get clear on what's important

  • Most people are unaware of their priorities. Our priorities are the things that are most important to us right now. Not serving them is non-negotiable.

  • People are capable of having two or three priorities. More priorities leave them scattered and unfulfilled, filling their time with stuff that doesn't matter.

  • Once you know your priorities, everything on your to-do list should serve them. Look out for the 'shoulds' - they are not serving your priorities.

Give tasks a value

Look over your to-do list and assign every task a value, such as a dollar-per-hour amount that you might have to pay someone else to do it. Score tasks from $10 per hour for administrative tasks up to $10,000 per hour for high-level strategy and sales-related tasks.

By giving dollar-per-hour values to specific tasks, you ensure you use your resources correctly.

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Get Your System Under Control

Create 3 different to-do lists:

  • Important but non-time sensitive projects list
  • Items that need to be completed today list
  • Not-to-do list

The Not-to-do List

The purpose of this list is to know the tasks the are not important and are not worthwhile. There are a lot of things worthy of your time and getting rid of those unnecessary tasks will give you more time to complete more important tasks.

How to Make Your Don't Do List

  • Reevaluate your to-do list: Identify the goals and determine how the items in your list impact your aims.
  • Create your not to-do list: Cut those unimportant tasks in your to-do list and paste it on your no to-do list. By doing this, you must accept that your time is limited and commit on letting them go.
  • Evaluate new tasks: From then on, once a new assignment arrives, evaluate its importance and the effects of it with your goals.