Everybody has made use of some productivity tool at least once in their lifetime. One of the most commonly used tool is your basic to-do list, because well it can be done on basically anything, from a piece of paper, the receipt you had for your morning latte and even the palm of your hands! However, we’ve had those days when we’ve exhausted all of our resources, yet our tasks on that resentful to-do list is never-ending. Here are simple tips to make this simple productive tool work for you, from the book Time Management by Marshall Cook and from personal experience. To make it more practical, the principles below are just guidelines and not rules for you to follow.

Pick Only One to Two Priorities

Premise # 1: Stick to one.

If in a world full of people, you’ll be settling for one in the end then so as with life. In a world full of opportunities, activities and tasks that you could have done, what is the one most important and meaningful thing that you have to do for that day. In creating your to-do list always remember that less is always more. If it’s more then it becomes trashy. Don’t be trashy. No one likes trashy.

Pick the Most Important Tasks to Tackle Head-on

Premise # 2: Make the important activities your top priority as you would prioritize your families, friends and mostly self.

Do the most important thing/s during the time of the day when you are at your peak in terms of alertness, motivation and energy levels. Each one of us has varying biorhythmic levels- to put it simply, some are night owls and some are morning peasants, you just have to know which one are you and consider that in planning your tasks.

Write Down Tasks that are Realistic and Achievable

Premise # 3 Create a to-do list not a wish-list

Here’s the typical format of a to-do list that doesn’t work.

Time Activity
5:00- 6:00 am Werk yoh ass out
6:00-7:00 am Prepare breakfast
7:00-7:30 am Drive to work
7:30-8:00 am Read the headlines of business inquirer, the bible and pray the rosary
8:00-11:00 am Do work tasks
11:00- 12:00 Lunch break

What do you think? Is your to-do list somewhat similar to this one? What are the points of improvement here? Have you realistically considered the amount of time needed to accomplish each task? Are there any rest breaks especially between long tasks? Have you considered unexpected circumstances in planning? If your answer to these questions is no, then I think you’d have to re-do the way your to-do list.

Create a Flexible To-do List

Premise # 4 Do not print a to do-list.

Before, I would like my to-do list printed out, because who wouldn’t? Especially after seeing your list printed perfectly on a white, crisp and clean bond paper. Ecstatic. But, what happens if you have to make changes in the list? Ugh. Nasty. It would break my heart. Main point is you have to make your list flexible so you can adjust the time allotment, delete unnecessary tasks or add tasks that are more doable and realistic.

Reward Yourself for Small Successes

Premise # 5 Schedule breaks, time outs, and little rewards when you don’t need it yet, say for every 30 to 45 minutes of continuous tasks.

This method will allow your brain to switch from more difficult tasks to tasks that barely need your attention. This will also contribute to sustained energy and motivation levels afterwards so you don’t feel easily exhausted, especially by the end of the day.

Examples of such activities are doodling, drawing, singing, dancing; what works for me are meditation, deep breathing and light whole body exercises such as squats, push-ups and planks so that no matter how busy I am I can still be physically fit.

Until you read from me again.

Author: juliandee