4 Ways to Improve Your To Do List


PictureTime is a precious asset that college students and young professionals do not have. Generation Y, our generation, is always working on multiple things at once. We are convinced that we can tweet, gchat, send an email and complete an assignment all at the same time. Truth is, people who multitask are at a disadvantage from those who focus on one thing at a time. By multi-tasking, you divide your attention among multiple things, which means nothing is done at the best level possible. Studies show only 2% of people can multi-task effectively. If you are in the other 98% read on.

We often think that To Do Lists (TDL) are great tools to assist with getting things done. They are, if you know how to use them properly. A TDL is useful in outlining the tasks and responsibilities you need to attend to. However, it is not effective in motivating you to get more done and keeping you on schedule. Traditional to do lists are more likely to cause you to multitask, by switching back and forth between multiple items.  We all know that multi-tasking makes you less efficient because our brains are unable to simultaneously switch between tasks.  Here are some tips on how to maximize your to do lists so they no longer fail you.

1.  Clearly state your deadlines, priorities and any other important reminders

By prominently displaying these items on your to-do list, you can have a big picture view of what needs to get done and plan accordingly.

2. Give yourself a time limit.

Schedule a time that you will dedicate to each task exclusively. By focusing on one thing at a time, you increase your productivity and effectiveness for each task. Break up each project into small manageable increments throughout the day, so that you can start to make progress for each task.

3. Set other tasks aside

Unless it is an urgent situation that needs your attention right away, write it on a separate part of your to do list. We all are guilty of getting side tracked, but that doesn't mean that we cannot consciously avoid it at all costs. By writing other tasks that come up on a separate part of your to-do list, you acknowledge that it needs attention, but also allow for you to continue working on the current task you have scheduled.

4. Build in breaks

If you are anything like me, you get so caught up in working that you forget to eat. That is not healthy or helpful when you are trying to get stuff done.  Build some time into your schedule to eat, take a 15-minute break, return emails, etc. This helps to keep you on task and refreshed for each part of your day.

It may seem daunting to schedule every minute of every day, however, try this system and see how much you are able to get done and well. It takes 21 days to develop a habit, so you will have to deliberately work at becoming an effective user of to-do lists.  Do what works for you and take bits and pieces of what I have suggested. One thing that is non-negotiable is trying to multi-task. It does not work. Create your own to do list format or use the ones available at the end of this post.

Try this for a day or a week and let me know how it goes for you. Submit your feedback below so I can continue to create actionable resources and content for you to efficiently manage your time and brand. How does this relate to your personal brand you ask? You can now add “Effective Time Management” to your skill set.