2. If/then Lists

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.

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Time Management

MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE

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 have enough time to tackle it all, this approach lets you set realistic goals for yourself one task at a time.

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.
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 are more likely to stick in our memories if we draw pictures of them instead of writing them down. Doing so also forces you to think them through ahead of time.

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:
  • Fill the first slot with the biggest job of the day.
  • Pick three smaller, but still important tasks to fill out the middle of your list.
  • Finish it off with five items you can quickly take care of.
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 have to be moved within the board.
  • Fill with tasks the three columns—"To-Do, " "Doing, " and "Done".
  • Any items you complete should be relocated to the "Done" column, and any items you start from the "To-Do" section should move to "Doing. "
  • Place the board somewhere easy to glance at throughout the day, so you can easily visualize your progress.
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 to 10), and the return on your investment (scaled one to 10).
  • Based on those metrics, identify which items take priority.

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RELATED IDEAS

4. Do Deep Work / Avoid Half-Work or Shallow Work

Deep work is a term developed by Cal Newport, stating that all intellectual activities should be performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit.

On the other side deep work is “half-work” or “shallow work”. That kind of low‑value work usually goes along with multitasking, working on many projects, and having distractions in the environment (email, chat, and others).

Software that can help you do deep work:

15

IDEAS

Must, Should, Want

Time commitment to get started: Medium

Type: Abstract, visual

Perfect for people who: Need to prioritize tasks, but tend to go for lists over graphs.

What it does: Prioritizes your tasks by urgency, ensures that you’re accomplishing the right things.


Write down everything you have to do and then identify each as a Must, a Should, or a Want.


Your Must tasks are non-negotiable. Pay rent” — that’s a Must if it’s the first of the month.


A Should is something you need to do, but it’s not dire that it be done today. Answering certain emails may be a Should.


A Want is something you’d like to do, but might not be practical or necessary at the moment.

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.

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