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These Seven To-Do List Mistakes Could Be Derailing Your Productivity

Not Linking Your List And Calendar

“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.

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These Seven To-Do List Mistakes Could Be Derailing Your Productivity

These Seven To-Do List Mistakes Could Be Derailing Your Productivity

https://www.fastcompany.com/40521670/these-seven-to-do-list-mistakes-could-be-derailing-your-productivity

fastcompany.com

7

Key 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 transition into personal time. 

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.

Treating Each Item Equally

If it’s not a priority, it should not be on the list. Follow the 3-3-3 system when writing out your list:

  • Delete three of the items since they probably aren’t that important.
  • Delegate three of the items to someone else, as they are not the best use of your time or talents. 
  • Do three of the items that are the highest priority.

Not Being Specific

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. 

Using The Same List Until It’s Done

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. 

Not Linking Your List And Calendar

“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.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Dealing with to-do lists

The common struggles to conquer our to-do lists:

  • 41% of to­-do items are never completed.
  • 50% of completed to-­do items are done within a day.
  • 18% of completed to­-do ite...
Too many to-do's

Most of us put way too much stuff on our lists. And that puts us on the path to failure.

Overstuffing our lists causes a continuous thrum of worry in our heads. And the worry that results from having too many conflicting goals causes our productivity as well as our physical and mental health to suffer.

How we're making to-do lists

We're just not good at constructing our to-do lists. It's not as simple as it looks. 

Many of us aren't any good at formulating the tasks on the list, failing to think through steps and plans, so that when we're faced with too many tasks and too few suggestions on how to proceed, we don't complete tasks. Remember that the to-do list string around your finger is for you to make better plans using the list.

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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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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.

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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...

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 the more involved tasks, while the second list should feature more mindless tasks like cleaning out your inbox, organizing your desk, or even napping.

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 important but not urgent, can be scheduled for a later time.
  3. Tasks deemed urgent but not important can be delegated to others if possible
  4. Tasks that are neither urgent nor important should be crossed off the list altogether.

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The Problem with To-Do Lists

To-do lists call our attention to tasks that are easy to quantify and complete. These tasks can feel more pressing and important than they really are and make us prioritize them while neglecting...

The Hunter Method
This method is inspired by early human survival tactics. "If the hunter made a successful hunt for that day, his family would eat. If not, they wouldn’t. It was that simple."
  • Choose one task that is going to be the focus of your day, even if it does not fill your whole day.
  • Write it on a Post-it note and stick it to your laptop.
  • Look at this note when your mind begins to wander.
What 'must-do' to choose

You'll find it is usually the thing you least want to do. It is not a meaningless errand or tedious office task. It's a significant item that will make you feel more fulfilled.

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.
The philosophy of working "smart"

... is to maximize your productivity when you are working so that you can get more stuff done in shorter periods of time.

By working smarter, you'll find yourself with more time in th...

Find the to-do list app that work for you

The best one for you depends entirely on your working style and personal preferences.

You can use a physical notebook around everywhere you go, but it's easier to use a to-do list app or tool that syncs across all your devices. That way, you can access your to-do items whenever and wherever you need to, whether you're at your desk, in a meeting, or on a business trip.

Prepare in advance

Write out your to-do list the day before:

  • You'll free your time to dive right into your to-do list in the morning - one of the most productive times of day.
  • It can help you spot obstacles ahead of time and prepare accordingly.
  • Knowing what you have going on well in advance could help you relax and sleep better the night before.

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Perfectionism and to-do lists

To-do lists can help perfectionists move past our paralysis. They may find making a list to be a reassuring guide to their day.

But there's also a risk: to-do lists can backfire i...

Break down projects

 ... into manageable tasks. 

This way, you're armed with a set of concrete actions to take rather a vague cloud of high expectations.

Define the next action

... rather than all subsequent steps.

Focusing only on the next action gives you permission to work on something even if you don’t have it all figured out—which is crucial to completing tasks that in the past have left you paralyzed.

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A Specific Daily To-Do List
  • You should only put things on a to-do list that you have the time and resources to achieve
  • Big goals and projects should be broken down into actionable tasks.
  • ...
An Outsource List
  • Look at everything on your to-do list and ask yourself, ‘Am I the only person who can do this?’
  • Anything that can be given to someone else should be put on an outsource list.
  •  While outsourcing takes the extra time upfront to train someone else on the task, it saves you time later, which can be used to focus on the things you do have to do. 
A Long-Term Goals List

Even if you think it’s too big of a dream but it’s something you want, write it down anyway. 

When you write something down, studies say you’ll be 33% more likely to do it because it sets an intention and puts a goal into motion.

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Stop Reacting

Don’t check your email or anything else that is going to dictate your behavior.

If you start your day by checking and replying to emails, it means you'll just react as new things come ...

The Things That Matter Most

Most of us get 80% of results from 20% of the work we do. So focus on that 20%.

Don’t be vague. Specify what you need to get done - research shows that having concrete goals is correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control.

Use Your “Magic Hours” Wisely

You have 2-2.5 hours of peak productivity every day. You may actually be 30% more effective at that time. For most of us, this happens in the morning.

Those are the hours when you should be working on your main goals. Why would you want to waste that on a conference call or a staff meeting?

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