Do you find yourself constantly making lists? I sure do. But it doesn’t always feel like my daily lists are working well. If you’re like me and you need more free time with your family (and a greater sense of accomplishment!), try out these simple tips for to-do lists. I think you’ll find that they will help you better manage your time as well.
- Keep your list short and manageable, no more than 3-5 things. If you find that you can complete them quickly-great! Spend some time with your family, and be satisfied with your productivity. Or use the extra time to work on one of your projects or read a book.
- Be specific. Don’t write vague tasks like ‘clean’ or ‘write lesson plans’. These could take a long time to complete (does you house ever feel clean enough? I always can find more to clean). Choose a specific task you wish to complete, like ‘wash linens’.
- Be realistic. Limit a daily to do list to tasks that you can and will complete in your available time. Keep a separate list for big projects.
- Prioritize your list. I don’t find that I have time to make a list and then rewrite the tasks in order of importance. But I can circle or mark with an asterisk the most essential 1 or 2 things. This serves 2 purposes: It allows me to interact a second time with that task. The more times you see information, the more likely you are to remember it. It makes those things stand out. They are more likely to get my attention whenever I see my list, and are therefore more likely to get done!
- Keep all your lists in one place. Carry a notebook or day planner with you and write all your lists inside it. You want your list to be nearby so you don’t forget about it and so you don’t lose it.
- Reflect on what gets done and what doesn’t. Move unfinished tasks to another day’s list or make it a project.
- Keep a running list of projects you’d like to accomplish. Under each project, list the steps necessary to complete it. Then when you have time, you can tackle small chunks of your project.
I keep lists of things I need to do for my classroom, recipes to try next week, errands to run on the weekend, people to call, etc. I blame my mom for this habit because she is also a perpetual “lister”. But lately I’ve been reevaluating my to-do lists. I’ve been noticing that I’ll work hard all weekend, yet Monday would come and I felt like I hadn’t gotten any of my important tasks checked off the list. Once I started implementing these strategies, I felt more successful at the end of the day. The act of physically crossing something off of your list will make you fell like, if nothing else, at least you did that thing today.