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How to Make Your To-Do List Doable

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https://lifehacker.com/how-to-make-your-to-do-list-doable-270404

lifehacker.com

How to Make Your To-Do List Doable
There's no better feeling than checking something off your to-do list. Done! Finished! Mission accomplished! Yet it's so easy to let a whole day or week go by without knocking one task off your list. How does that happen?

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To-Do Lists

Your to-do list can be a tool that guides you through your work, or it can be a big fat pillar of undone time bombs taunting you and your unproductive inadequacy.

If the instructions are c...

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The two modes

At any point during the workday, you are in one of these modes:
  • When a project or task comes up, the steps you need to take start to form in your mind. Now you're in thinking/Boss mode.&nb...

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Put Items That You're Definitely Doing

Instead of letting tasks you're not quite committed to loiter on your to-do list until you're sick of looking at them, move them off to a separate list, a holding area for Someday/Maybe items. ...

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Break It Down

Your to-do list is not your project list. Don't add multi-action tasks to your to-do list, such as "Clean out the office." Break projects down to smaller, easier-to-tackle subtasks.

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Focus Only on the Next Action

When you have a multi-action task, keep only its next sequential action on your to-do list. When the task is complete, refer to your project list and add its next action to your to-do list.

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Use Specific, Active Verbs

When you tell yourself to do something, make it an order. 

An item such as "Acme account checkup" doesn't tell you what has to be done. Make your to-do's sp...

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Include as Much Information as Possible

When formulating a to-do, the onus is on your Boss self to make it as easy as possible for your Assistant self to get the job done. 

Arm your Assistant self with all the ...

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Keep Your List Short

Just as no one wants to look at an email inbox with 2,386 messages in it, no one wants to have an endless to-do list. It's overwhelming and depressing. 

Instead, keep you...

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Prioritize Your Tasks

Although your to-do list might have 20 items on it, the reality is that you're going to get only a couple done per day (assuming that you're not writing down things like "get up, shower, make co...

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Keep Your List Moving

Although my to-do list is only 20 items or so, it's 20 items that change every day. Every day, two to five tasks get checked off, and two to five tasks get added. 

...

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Update Your List Weekly

Schedule a 20-minute meeting with yourself every Friday or Monday to review your to-do list, project list, and someday/maybe list.
Use that time to rewrite any items that aren't br...

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Log Your Completed Tasks

Your "done" list is a great indicator of whether your to-do list is working. If more than two days go by without a new done item, it's time to revamp your to-do list and get back to best pra...

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Practice Makes Perfect

90% of the work involved when you're tackling tasks that matter is the planning. 

The more you practice the art of creating effective to-do's, the faster and easier it will ...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Writing The List In The Morning

Although it might feel natural to create your to-do list first thing in the morning, it's too late.
Writing the list at the end of the day allows you to leave work behind and tra...

Including Too Many Tasks

Ideally, create a ‘top three’ tasks at the beginning of your to-do list. 

Long lists are a problem because most people aren’t aware that “we only have about three to six good hours of work in us each day.”

People also tend to underestimate how long a task takes. 

Including Someday Items

Aspirational tasks, like writing a book, don’t belong on a to-do list; instead, create a separate bucket list. 

Daily to-do lists should be focused. If you have a big project you want to complete, you can put it on your to-do list if you chunk it out into smaller, more attainable tasks.

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Common Reasons For Procrastination

  • Fears of not doing a specific task well enough.
  • Unpleasant feelings associated with a specific task.
  • Thinking working under pressure makes for more efficient working.

Drop Or Automate Tasks

If procrastination makes your list have too many items, find out what you can eliminate. For necessary but time-consuming tasks that don’t bring a lot of returns, consider adopting solutions that will do it for you.

Automating tasks you would otherwise be doing manually, is also very satisfying and can help you fight procrastination.

Break Tasks Down

Sometimes it seems daunting to start a project because of its scale, which is why it’s important to break tasks down into small chunks. 

Subdividing tasks allows you to keep progressing by switching tasks when you get stuck but have deadlines to meet or taking a break isn’t an option. It also allows you to circumvent boredom as you won’t get stuck in the same task.

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Ruthless prioritization

It means deciding not to do things you'd really like to do. It also means deciding what's the most important task even when everything on your list feels crucial.

But if you can prioritize...

Consolidate All of Your Tasks Into a Single Source

To-dos arrive from a variety of sources. Your boss sends you an email, you get a Slack message from IT, a bill arrives in the mail, or a coworker asks for a favor in the hallway.

In order to prioritize your task list efficiently, you need a master to-do list that contains all of the tasks you need to prioritize and complete from all of those sources.

Analyze Your Task List

Go through your list, review each task, and decide what you want to do with it. You have 4 options:

  • Do: complete the task now
  • Defer: complete it later
  • Delegate: assign it to someone else
  • Delete: remove it from your list

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