We all make them! We remake them again and again only to notice the exact same things are listed from one day to the next. I realize that sometimes making a To-Do List makes you feel overwhelmed by stating the amount of work you have to do. I am sure that many of you have felt all you do is make lists and more lists, yet nothing ever gets accomplished. Believe it or not, there are better ways to make a list than just writing everything down.
To-Do Lists should be prioritized by all the things you need to accomplish that day. They list everything that you have to do, with the most important tasks at the top of the list, and the least important chores toward the bottom. Do you remember that old saying of putting them in ABC order?
A proven simple technique is the ABC rating of your priorities. Mark the tasks on your To-Do List with “A’s” for the most important task. “B’s” are less urgent but still important things that you should start right after you are done with “A’s”. “C’s” are “would love to do” things that you could do if you have any time left after completing “A’s” and “B’s”. Those To-Do’s can be moved to another day. By prioritizing your list, you plan the order in which you’ll do things and you stay focused on the most important items. While this sounds like a simple thing to do, it’s when people start to use To-Do Lists correctly that they will feel as though they are in more control of the day. One then accomplishes things and even finds some extra time at the end of the day! With To-Do Lists, you’ll be more organized and in full control of your day.
Here are some tips to help you get started making To-Do Lists:
1. Start by writing down all of the tasks that you need to complete the night before.
2. Make sure you have not overloaded yourself with too many things to do.
3. Keep your list small and write with a pencil so you can easily erase or add to your list. No one likes to look at a list with a bunch of scribbles and scratched out words.
Make your lists very clear! For example, write or print clearly, and if you need to make a doctor’s appointment, write who is to have that appointment and with which doctor. Sometimes if your list is too vague you might forget what you really meant to do, if that makes sense. Another example would be if you wrote “car”…is that an oil change, fill gas, rotate tires? You get the point. Write “Car-Oil change” Don’t forget to prioritize your list using the ABC method. If too many things are at a high priority, you will never get it all accomplished. Look at your list again. See if you can remove some less important ones or at least move them to later in the week.
Everyone uses different methods for different kinds of lists. Here are some ideas for a To-Do List. Keep a notebook with you, use your iPhone or Blackberry or a digital recorder. I leave myself messages at home on our answering machine to remind me if I need to put something on my To-Do List. Some people use a magnetic pad for the refrigerator. Try a few different ways to see what works best for you to make your lists. You may need different kinds of lists for different things. For example, I use the magnet pad on my refrigerator for my running grocery list and I use a sticky note for my To-Do List for that day and carry it with me. I stick it to the dashboard of my car (not over anything important!). I can still see that I am going a little too fast and need to slow down.
Keep in mind that you may need an additional list at home. Try keeping an ongoing list of projects that you need to accomplish, but haven’t penciled into your daily list . This additional list may include things to fix around the house, pay bills, send birthday cards or a run to the mall for a dress you need for a wedding later in the month. Update this list once a week. And always remember to use the ABC method. It’s amazing what you will accomplish!
Author Michelle Lehman of Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”Michelle is a Professional Organizer in the Tulsa area. Her articles have been featured in the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman, and The Chicago Post-Tribune. Michelle appears on Fox23 News DayBreak giving organizing tips and recommendations.