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4 ways to make your to-do list a whole lot sexier | A Life of Productivity

Create a “when-then” plan

Create a “when-then” plan

To get something done, it helps to get very specific about what we’ll do and when we’ll do it.

Setting simple implementation intentions as part of a when-then plan make people as much as three times more likely to achieve their goals. 

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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...

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. 
  • Your to-do list is a collection of those orders, which your Assistant personality will later pick up and do.
Write down the instructions in such a way that your Assistant self can just do them without having to think - or stress. 
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. 

Only concrete actions you're committed to completing should live on your to-do list.

Make planning a habit
Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

Start by setting ...

Align your to-do list with goals
  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.
Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.

Why Set Personal Goals
  • You are in charge. Personal goals force you to take responsibility for the actual efforts and progress.
  • You see the small steps leading to a big picture: big goals c...
“Which? Why? What? How?” Technique

... for choosing personal goals. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Ask yourself which aspect of your life you would like to change most.
  2. Think about why you want to change this.
  3. How will that change make you feel? Determine what exactly will make you feel this way.
  4. Ask yourself how you can make this happen and then make it your personal goal.
The Life Balance Chart Technique
  • Draw a chart. Write down each of the various areas of your life (family, health, self-development, career, relationships) in a new column or line.
  • Assess your current happiness level in each of these categories by giving it a score from 1 to 10.
  • Think what will make you be fully satisfied with these areas. Write down your ideas – you will be able to transform them into personal plans.