Creating to-do lists is the easiest way to feel productive without ever completing a single task. It’s essentially a paradise for procrastinators who like to pretend they are not so lazy after all. However, we are not saying that to-do lists are a bad thing per se.
While 70% of American employees claim they don’t feel engaged at work, making a reminder of activities to be done can drastically improve professional performance. No one is able to give 100% every day, but cleverly designed to-do lists can help you through the day more productively.
You might be wondering now: What does it mean to create a quality list of duties?
Our point is that you shouldn’t simply write any kind of agenda, but rather a solid document with well-planned bulletins. In this post, we will show you why to rewrite your motivational to-do list every day. Let’s take a look!
The Cons of Using To-Do Lists
Before we start discussing the reasons and ways to create daily to-do lists, we want to let you know why some people consider this professional feature to be counterproductive. There are all sorts of remarks here, but they all come down to these two:
- Complexity: A lot of people create long and complex to-do lists, including all sorts of different tasks. You can find it all there – from 60-second duties and 5-minute tasks to complicated 10-hour activities. In such circumstances, most employees choose to do simpler tasks because it feels good to remove multiple items from the list so quickly. But does it make them more productive? Definitely not.
- No hierarchy: Piling up duties one over another creates nothing more than a mess. The lack of focus and hierarchy can hardly ever lead to business efficiency, so people often neglect important tasks while concentrating on trivial activities.
With these to-do list downsides in our minds, we can move on and focus on the more important segment of this post, which is…
How to Rearrange Your To-Do List on a Daily Basis
We can suggest you a plethora of interesting to-do list tricks, but we want to narrow down the options and show you only the ones that already proved to be successful for the hectic lifestyle of the busy world. Here are the nine hacks to boost everyday productivity:
- Keep it short
As we mentioned already, complexity is one of the biggest obstacles when writing your to-do list. Try to make it shorter and keep it up to 5 or 6 items. This is just about enough to keep you busy throughout the day without piling up a bunch of leftovers for the coming days. Of course, you cannot include only minor tasks that will take one hour of work altogether. Instead, make the list short but challenging.
- Learn to prioritize
The lack of hierarchy and structure is the second problem we discussed above. Your job is to learn how to determine priorities because it’s the only way to remain productive. We recommend you to divide duties into four categories:
- Important and urgent: These goals are the first you need to take care of
- Important but not urgent: The second group falls right behind the previous one
- Urgent but not important: If you have enough time to focus on urgent but unimportant tasks, do it after the first two sets of duties
- Not urgent and not important: Do it in the end, but only if you are feeling super-diligent
- Eliminate banal tasks
Banal tasks are genuine to-do list spoilers. These tasks are so small, but people keep adding them to their duty lists just to get the impression of completing much more work. You can remove these items from the list or put them all in one category (trivia). Another advice is to spend time on banal activities – such as emails – later during the day because you can do it quickly even if you are not feeling fresh and well-rested.
- Stop writing down items you know you won’t complete
This may seem like a stupid advice, but how many times have you written the same goals all over again just to end up disregarding them? It’s a terrible practice that only wastes your time without contributing to the daily performance. Eliminate these items and concentrate on more significant things.
- Divide bigger tasks into smaller units
Since you are recreating to-do lists day after day, you probably cannot fit in really big tasks. But there is a simple solution to the problem: divide time-consuming duties into smaller units and work in increments. You just need to plan in advance in order to complete everything on time. In our opinion, this approach is much better than spending the entire day working on one project only.
- Use technology to reduce the workload
Do you often perform highly repetitive tasks that steal you a lot of time but really need to be done? If yes, you should consider finding a tool to automate the process. The Internet is flooded with incredible apps and platforms, so all you need to do is find the most suitable option for your business.
For example, best essays writers and other writing professionals who create a lot of textual content have to proofread their novels, books, presentations, or articles. It’s a time-consuming process, but they can complete it much faster using apps such as Grammarly or Hemingway.
These tools don’t only detect spelling and grammar mistakes, but also analyze writing styles, suggest necessary corrections, and give tons of other valuable tips. If you can find such tools to help you speed up the work, make sure to use it and permanently delete some tasks from your to-do lists.
- Share it with colleagues
Another way to improve your to-do list performance is to share it with your closest associates. Every time you write a new list, send it to the business partner and he/she should do the same in the opposite direction. That way, you can control and encourage each other, thus achieving more in the long run.
In a way, this is how agile project management functions as teams get to share the same dashboard and everyone can see what their colleagues are working on at the moment. This model represents a huge productivity driver, which is why companies all over the world embraced it years ago.
- Leave room for breaks
Now, this is one thing people tend to forget when it comes to writing to-do lists, but you should always leave some time for breaks. Don’t plan every minute of every day because it’s impossible to achieve that level of efficiency. On the contrary, taking a break every now and then will help you refresh and clear your head, giving you enough energy to maintain the highest quality of work in the next few hours.
- Measure the results
The last tip is to measure the results of your to-do lists. You don’t have to keep the official statistics, but it would be great if you could figure out the things that work well for you and also the ones that don’t really make the difference in terms of personal productivity. Doing so, you should soon be able to design a perfect to-do list that never fails to deliver.
To-do lists have an ambiguous nature. Such a document can drastically improve your everyday productivity, but it can also turn you into the full-time procrastinator. The way you go depends mostly on the type of list you create.
Our post showed you the downsides of to-do lists and how to make them better by rewriting your daily tasks regularly. We strongly encourage you to test these productivity hacks, but you should also leave us a comment in case you have other useful tips to share with our readers.