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11 Practical Tips for Finishing Your To-Do List Faster

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 the day to sleep, exercise, be creative, and recharge. And the key to getting through your to-do list faster is by working smarter -- without sacrificing the quality of your work.

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11 Practical Tips for Finishing Your To-Do List Faster

11 Practical Tips for Finishing Your To-Do List Faster

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/to-do-list-hacks

blog.hubspot.com

12

Key Ideas

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 the day to sleep, exercise, be creative, and recharge. And the key to getting through your to-do list faster is by working smarter -- without sacrificing the quality of your work.

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.

Work stuff vs. personal stuff

Separate your work and personal to-do lists. You'll be more productive if you focus on work when you're at work and on life stuff when you're at home.

Keep multiple lists separated on the same tools or apps, or if you find it hard to stay focused on one or the other when they share an app or tool, you might use different tools or apps for each part of your life.

Keep a "to-don't" list

Remove any items from your to-do list that you're not realistically going to do and put them on a "to-don't" list. 

That way, you aren't wasting any time on the things that don't really matter. This will help you prioritize the more urgent list items and get through everything faster.

Share your to-do list

It is a great way to collaborate, but it's also a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Having to share your to-do list with others in the first place will force you to spend some time prioritizing your tasks and thinking through which ones you'll be able to realistically complete.

Knock things off the list

... and block time on your calendar for this.

It can be much easier to focus and get your work done quicker. Plus, it prevents others from setting up meetings with you during that time.

Batch similar tasks

... and put them in the same time frame.

Perpetually shifting your focus between different tasks can add up to a whole lot of wasted time. Shifting between tasks causes temporary mental barriers, depleting our productivity by as much as 40%.

Physically remove distractions

Notifications, phone calls, and noise in the office can make it much harder to get through your to-do list quickly.

Remove those temptations by physically removing stuff like notifications, turning your phone on airplane mode, or even putting your phone in your bag. And if you really need to focus, you might even move yourself to shut out in-person distractions: shut yourself in a room until the task is done.

Use the Pomodoro Technique

Work in sprints, followed by periods of rest.

The Pomodoro Technique is all about taking advantage of our natural rhythms of energy and fatigue: You work in 90-minute intervals, followed by 30 minutes of rest between each interval. 

Reward yourself

Try using a rewards system: Once you knock three items off your list, or once you finish a particularly grueling task, you can allow yourself to check Twitter, eat a snack, or go to the gym.

The "dead battery countdown"

Bring your laptop with you to a remote location without your computer charger, and aim to get your to-do list done by the time you leave

This is a way of gamifying your productivity, and it works: The pressure of a looming deadline can do wonders to keep you focused and working smarter.

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Work Around Your Energy Levels

Productivity is directly related to your energy level.

Find your most productive hours — the time of your peak energy — and schedule Deep Work for those periods. Do low-value and low-energy tasks (also known as shallow work), such as responding to emails or unimportant meetings, in between those hours.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Before going to bed, spend 5 minutes writing your to-do list for the next day. These tasks should help you move towards your professional and personal goals.

You’ll be better prepared mentally for the challenges ahead before waking up and there won’t be any room for procrastination in the morning. As a result, you’ll work faster and smoother than ever before.

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Trim the fat

Multitasking and directing your energy to unimportant tasks and activities will overwhelm and prevent you from being productive.

Focus on your 3 to 5 ...

Measure your results

To assist you with measuring results instead of time, keep done lists to feel more motivated and focused.

Have an attitude adjustment

We are more effective at work when we have a positive attitude. 

good attitude at work will help you set standards for your work and ensure that you're taking responsibility for yourself.

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'Eat that Frog'

This is a productivity method developed by Brian Tracy. The 'frog' refers to the most important and most impactful task you have to complete.

If you work on it first thing e...

Clarify your goals

If you don't know what your goals are, most likely you won't be able to identify and prioritize the specific tasks you need to work on to achieve those goals. 

Write your major goals down and break them into tasks. Your goal tasks are your frogs, the things you want to work on first thing every day for greater productivity and success.

Think long-term

... to make better short-term decisions.

If you question the consequences of doing/not doing a to-do before you start on it, it not only makes it easier to find your frogs, but it also makes it easier to find time-wasting tasks that are better deleted from your list or delegated to someone else.

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Lists

While everybody is busy doing to-do lists, you might find yourself feeling tired at the very thought of just starting such a list. Actually, this is quite understandable, as to-do list require effo...

Functioning with lists

We all know for a fact that to-do lists are great: they enable you to be more organized while keeping track of your progress in the different fields. However, what is even greater is the combination of to-do tasks with the already accomplished ones. Creating done lists leads to an increase in self-confidence as well as making oneself feel satisfied with the current accomplishments.

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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9 Habits to Eliminate
  1. Don't answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. Don't waste time knowing the one who called, leave it in the voicemail.
  2. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last t...
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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Pacing yourself

Trying to get work done uses the same principle as running: You have to pace yourself. Runners that sprint at the beginning will be tired out long before they reach the finish line.

O...

The principle behind the To-Do List
  • At the end of the week, write a list with everything you want to get done.
  • At the end of the day, write a list containing what parts of that weekly list you want to be finished with tomorrow.

After you finish your daily list, you don't work on more projects or tasks. After you complete the weekly list, you're done for the week.

Advantages of using a WD system
  • A WD (Weekly/Daily) system manages your energy. You will get a maximum of work done while leaving yourself time to relax.
  • A WD system stops procrastination because your big projects become bite-sized tasks.
  • A WD system makes you proactive. With a bigger picture in mind, it's easier to put in the important but not urgent tasks.
  • A WD system keeps you from burning out since you only have to focus on the next bite.

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Share your agenda

Don't assume people will automatically respect the fact that while you're working from home, you're still working.

Be proactive, share your schedule and explain when y...

Spend money where it counts most

Invest in a good computer, a good phone, and the most comfortable and ergonomically correct chair you can find. 

Working from home means you spend a lot of time sitting. When you're uncomfortable, it's hard to stay focused and productive. See these things as investments, not expenses.

Split your work day into chunks

Instead of thinking an 8-, 6-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. 

That way, you will have on average 4 tasks you will get done a lot more efficiently. Take breaks between tasks to recharge.

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Track and limit your time spent

Only around 17 % of people are able to accurately estimate the passage of time. 

Using the right tool can help by letting you know exactly how...

Take regular breaks

Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. 

Some research has shown that taking short breaks during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.

Set self-imposed deadlines

A manageable level of self-imposed stress can actually be helpful in terms of giving us focus and helping us meet our goals. 

For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it. 

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