How to Make A To-Do List That Actually Works
Your to-do list is essentially a fragment of your big vision for the future. If you realize this mini-vision every day, your dreams will soon become real.
That’s why you must learn how to make a to-do list the right way. Here’s how.
1. Use The Power of Less
By setting limitations, we must choose the essential. So in everything you do, learn to set limitations. – Leo Babauta
First you should remove as many tasks as possible. People often put ten to twenty tasks on their to-do lists. They don’t realize that our brain gets overwhelmed with so much information. The key here is focus. You must list no more than THREE tasks on your list so that you don’t lose focus.
And if you have more tasks, just categorize them to make the list shorter. You can also use the 80-20 rule to prioritize tasks.
How to make a to-do list: Less is more. Delete, prioritize and categorize.
2. Connect it to An Emotion
Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. – Henry David Thoreau
Think for a second. Why do you even want to complete all those tasks? How does it fit into your long-term vision?
Human beings are driven by emotion. It is the power of emotion that makes people climb Mount Everest. It is emotion that makes legends like Elon Musk dream of a sustainable world.
So giving it an emotional touch will make sure that you take it seriously. To do this, you can write a note on top of your list. For example, your note may say “I have to give a good lifestyle to my family”. Your note should evoke an emotion that connects you to your vision.
How to make a to-do list: Emotions drive us. Ask yourself, “What vision am I chasing?” or “What would fulfill me today?”
3. Eat That Frog
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
Eating the frog means doing the most important task the first thing in the morning.
Ask yourself, “Which task scares the jelly out of me?” Then do it first! This task must be more important than all others on your list.
Once you eat the frog, you will have enough satisfaction throughout the day. When you start strong, you end strong.
How to make a to-do list: Do the most important task first. It gives you confidence to carry on.
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4. Schedule Tasks
Work always expands to fill the time available for its completion – C. Northcote Parkinson
Often we a task requires only half of the time we originally estimate for it. This is why you must assign time slots. By allocating dedicated slots, you’ll make sure no time is wasted. Moreover, scheduling your tasks brings structure to your days and removes overwhelm. So instead of just writing to-do items, also assign time slots to each one of them.
Kevin Kruse, a bestselling author on time-management, interviewed over 200 billionaires and Olympians to learn how they manage time. He found that they always schedule tasks on a calendar. So don’t use the traditional to-do list without assigning time slots.
How to make a to-do list: Schedule tasks. Billionaires even plan their minutes.
5. Break Down Each Task
Divide and rule, weaken and conquer, love and enslave, these are three tenets of politics.
People often fail to complete the tasks on their to-do lists because they feel overwhelmed. This is why you must break down each task into about three simple steps. This makes sure that you don’t procrastinate when the time comes.
When you bring simplicity into your list, you make sure that your workflow will be as smooth as possible.
How to make a to-do list: When we divide a task into a few simple steps, it becomes doable.
6. Make All Decisions The Previous Day
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. ― Benjamin Franklin
Decision fatigue is the major reason people get stuck into bad habits and fail to do important tasks. It means that our brains would rather have us eat McDonald’s than letting us work on a task.
To overcome this problem, make all boring decisions the previous day. Ask yourself, “What can I do in advance to make the workflow smooth tomorrow?”
Arrange all the files and folders that you will need. Determine how you will eliminate all distractions. For example, you can set up productivity extensions on your browser the previous day to eliminate distractions.
How to make a to-do list: Make all tough and boring decisions the previous day.
Finally, to learn how to make a to-do list, see how Benjamin Franklin used to do it. Look how he has tied it to an emotion by asking the question: “What good shall I do today?”