How to Master Your To-Do List Once and For All

How to Master Your To-Do List Once and For All!

Copyright © Stephanie Dickison 2010.

I just read an article today about getting rid of your to-do list completely.

I can’t even imagine a world like that. How could you possibly keep on top of everything?

However, I do think that there are better ways than others to keep a to-do list so that it works for you and doesn’t become this beast that you can’t control or manage.

1. Write everything down.

This is the first and most important step.

The point of your to-do list is to get everything out of your head, so that you’re not consciously or subconsciously thinking or worrying about it.

No matter how small or looming the thing is, write it down. Don’t judge or edit yourself. Dump everything you can possibly think of onto the page.

It will immediately take away the pressure and by simply getting it out onto the page, you’ve made a step towards getting it done.

2. Put everything in one place.

I write about this again and again because it takes a while to train yourself to do this and not just reach for a sticky note or scrap piece of piece.

Write down all of your to-dos, whether they are big or small in one location, whether it is:
– a notebook
– one document or database on the computer, or
– your cellphone

Just think of it this way: no matter what you need to do, it will be written down in this one and only place. No more searching or panicking about where you put your list!

3. Look at your list each and every day, all day!

This may seem ridiculously simple and obvious, but I know many people who write things down but then don’t look at the darn thing. No wonder they miss deadlines, appointments and other important events. Keep it in front of you (or at your side) all day long. Keep checking it. Revise it. Cross/check things off as you do them. No matter what interruptions occur during the day (oh, they will occur), it will never leave your side and thus, you can always get back on track.

It takes only a few seconds to glance down at it and add to it. But a to-do list won’t work unless you’re referring to the items on it.

4. Prioritize your items.

Speaking of items, chances are you have an overwhelming amount of things to do.

If you don’t prioritize your to-do list and schedule yourself to get those tasks done, they’ll lie there and stare back at you forever.

I glance through my list every day and pick 3 things that I have to do each day. I feel that 3 is manageable for me and if I get more done, great! But that way, I’m not putting too much pressure on myself and if other things that need my immediate attention come up, I can handle it better than if I had 10 things yet to be done looming over me.

5. Reward yourself.

Gosh, there is so much to do!

I have found that if it’s written down and I’m looking at it all day long, chances are I’ll do it all, or at least as much as I can do. I mean, I can only take something sitting there, waiting to be taken care of for so long.

My to-do list has always served me better than my poor memory has, and I find it so incredibly rewarding to be able to not only keep up with all that life has to offer, but occasionally – very occasionally – I even manage to get ahead.

Job well done!

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic. She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper. But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…