To-do lists are undoubtedly a great way to keep your tasks organized and at hand whenever you need them. However, too many items on your list are a pest. They just cause a feeling of being overwhelmed and burdened even before you begin working on them. Even if you have a good grip on your long list, you probably start to unconsciously re-prioritize the items instead of getting to work.
How to achieve a short to-do list?
You feel clueless as to where must you start your days’ work from, and which are the tasks that require your immediate attention. Even more, you might feel anxious and afraid of missing out on something important that you had lined up for the day but could not tend to due to the never-ending task list initially created by you. Sounds messy already! To keep all the above hassles at bay, it is important to keep your to-do list short and precise. You must be wondering about how to get started given the fact that work keeps piling up and you keep adding to your list on a constant basis. Well, here are a few essential ways in which you can get it done.
These are the keys to take care of:
Trash Unnecessary Actions Off your To-do-List
Many, in fact, most of us, for our peace of mind or the security of not missing out on anything, tend to keep a note of everything that comes to our minds. Nevertheless, this does not mean that everything we note down is actionable or interesting. Thus, it is important to analyze if a task is important and worth committing your time to. If not, trash it! Now, this is something many of us procrastinate about. It makes no sense piling your to-do list with irrelevant tasks or ones that do not need your attention. You need to find a way to prioritize that works for you. If you spare a few minutes off your entire day to look at your seemingly long task list, you will come across several tasks that have been there forever, but not tended to. Do not hesitate to trash them if you don’t consider them a necessity. If it does come across as a task you need to act on in the future, you can always retrieve it later.
Stick to the Present
Whenever we receive a task, we commit a certain date and time as to when the task will eventually be performed. This is done for almost all the tasks that you add to your to-do list. However, a good part of this contains tasks that do not need to be performed or delivered within the next few weeks or months. Such works make your to-do list appear unnecessarily long and almost impossible one to achieve. So, keep them hidden as of now. Stick to the tasks that you have in hand now. Today’s list should only contain topics that will be taken care of today. A great way to keep a track of such future actions is to make use of a tickler file. You can keep the tasks arranged in a tickler file, sorted by time and date so that you can easily work on them at the concerned time. Review the place every week and keep updating new tasks to your upcoming action lists.
Include Items that You Will Definitely Work On
Your mind is at times boggled with tasks that you are not ready to take care of yet. It might be anything ranging from upgrading a website to learning a new language. Upgrading your website might not be a great priority for you at this very moment or at least for the next 6 months. Why prolong your to-do list with tasks that you are not quite committed to now? You can remove them from your immediate list and stack them in your monthly folders of a tickler file. Try and include concrete actions that you will definitely cater to on your main list to avoid bothering yourself with an annoyingly long to-do list.
Prioritize your Tasks
You might have a to-do list with 15 to 20 items listed in it. However, in reality, you will only be working on a few of them every day and re-schedule the rest for the future. Thus, ensure that the most vital tasks that require your attention are mentioned right on top of your list. This is called prioritizing your tasks. How you get this done vastly depends on the software or the task management tool that you are making use of to keep a track of your tasks in the to-do list. This will not just make your to-do list short and crisp, but also help you understand your next task at hand at one glance. Even better: If you know your day is blocked, move most of your tasks to the lists of future dates.
Create Separate Lists (Categorize)
Another way to make your to-do list appear manageable and shorter is by categorizing the items on your list. The motive behind this is to help you identify the tasks that can be clubbed together in the same category, eventually saving you time while handling similar tasks. Once you systematically club them together, your to-do list will automatically appear shorter. For efficient categorization, read through the list carefully and identify tasks that are similar or are related to each other. For example, look for website-related works like creating a website and its content. Create a category title and place them together to avoid confusion and make your list appear short as well as neat. Most software support tagging to achieve this kind of categorization.
Add context to your tasks
Not every task can be performed anywhere and anytime. Sometimes you will need access to special tools, documents or software that is only available at your desk. Sometimes. you need certain people to discuss the way forward. Add these kinds of contexts to your tasks in order to be able to focus on them, when you are ready. Examples for these kinds of context could be @desk, @phone or @home. Again, you can use tagging to define these contexts. Make sure, you are able to focus your attention on the context you are in right now in order to not be disturbed by tasks on your list, which you will not be able to take care of right now anyway.
Schedule What Can be Done
A major reason why people fail to execute everything they want to do is that it is not mentioned in their calendar. We often greatly underestimate the amount of time a certain task might take us to perform. You might look at your to-do list and think that you can perform most of them with ease. Nevertheless, only when you start blocking your time on the calendar that you start getting the actual estimate of how much can be achieved at the end of the day. Schedule what needs to be done. An overambitious to-do list tends to get unpleasantly long and seemingly impossible to achieve.
Follow a Biological Schedule
Work is done most efficiently when you are at your productive best. Get the most important tasks on the list performed right when you start your work at the office, so that once done you can remove them off the to-do list. Begin with tasks that are extremely mentally taxing. Then move on to the ones like handling emails and scheduling a call towards the later hours of the day, when your energy levels seem to be on a low. This will let you both cater to your work as well as shorten your list in due time.
Have a usefull to-do-list
Your to-do list is your own personal guide for the tasks you need to perform throughout the day, week or month. Most importantly, it helps simplify and offer you a smooth flow of work by specifying tasks that you need to perform immediately in a systematic way. Thus, a short and organized list is exactly what you need. Keep unnecessary stuff off it and line up the ones that need to be tended to at the earliest.