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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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 transition into personal time.
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.
If it’s not a priority, it should not be on the list. Follow the 3-3-3 system when writing out your list:
Be as specific as you can be, so that when you’re taking on a task on the fly, you can just get it done. For example, instead of writing “expense report” on your to-do list, write “enter receipts into spreadsheet.”
And skip the vague-sounding action words, such as “plan,” “implement,” or “develop” from your list of tasks.
Every day changes, so what you did today is not what you will do tomorrow. And what you think you are going to do tomorrow may change before today is over.
Instead, create a fresh list for each day.
“If you have a full calendar and a full to-do list that aren’t connected, you’ll never have time to take action on your to-do list, short of robbing yourself of sleep, family time, weekend relaxation, or vacation.”
Instead, block out time on your calendar to take action on your to-do list items.
Don't use the same list for each day; it might end up looking like a mess of mixed things (done, undone, unimportant, critical etc). Create a fresh list each day so that visually also, you get a feeling of starting with a clean slate. It can have tasks undone from previous day but writing them on top will force you to knock them off first.
The To-Do list is almost a sacred technique of organizing your day and eventually your life. They lessen the day’s anxiety, provide a structure to power-through and are written proof of our productivity.
As the Zeigarnik Effect proves, we obsess over unfinished tasks and remember stuff which is incomplete or pending. The To-Do list comes to the rescue and saves us from a lot of stress.
We like to put the easy tasks on top of the to-do list because it feels good to finish a task.
When you do that, you have less time for hard things. However, it is the hard stuff that serves your priorities.