You make a to-do list like everyone else, but somehow the number of tasks crossed off that list is only a fraction of the number left at the end of each day. How do get your to-do list done?
Sure, you could stop sleeping and eating and going to the bathroom and all other things that take time away from your to-do list. Of course, that would eventually kill you, and you can’t cross anything off your to-do list from the grave. So, you’re back to square one.
With a little organization and planning, your to-do list can become much shorter much more quickly. Following is a list of things to help you get your to-do list done.
1. Prioritize. There is no way to do everything, all the time. The first thing you should do when you make your list is to prioritize the items on that list. You should prioritize according to the immediacy of the task (is it due today or next month?) and the importance of the task (is it critical or something minor?). Once you’ve prioritized, you know which tasks to tackle first and which to leave for last.
2. Group. Another way to help you order the tasks on your list is to group them by location or similarity. Do you have three tasks that are done in one location away from the other tasks? Do them together, even if that location is as close as across the room. Have items that are related? Do them at the same time. You’ll save time and energy and get a mental boost from being able to get a group of items done.
3. Break up big tasks. Have a huge project due next week? Break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can do a little bit at a time. By breaking up big tasks, you will procrastinate less and work more productively and efficiently, leaving valuable space in your schedule and in your mind for other tasks.
4. Use down time. Stuck in line at the supermarket? Read that article your boss asked you to review for her. Taking a train or bus to work? Open your briefcase (or PDA case) and get busy. Don’t waste one moment of time in your day. The more you utilize those small moments, the more moments you’ll have later to spend doing something you love.
5. Reward yourself. When you get a few things done, reward yourself with a small prize. That prize could be a piece of candy or five minutes of web-surfing or a walk around the block. Let yourself enjoy your accomplishments before rushing back to your list. Rewards will keep you motivated and can give you a much-needed mental break that will make you more productive in the long run.
No matter how long your to-do list seems, by utilizing these skills on a daily basis, you can begin to tame the list and create more time in your schedule for things that aren’t on your to-do list, like spending time with loved ones, fostering a hobby, or just relaxing at home, far away from the stress of your list.