In my job, like most, there are a million moving pieces. E-mails are coming from all directions, deadlines are never-ending, and sometimes, the balancing act seems impossible.
But I do have a system, and although it has yet to be perfected, it tends to help get the job(s) done.
The secret? It’s simple.
‘To do’ lists.
Each day starts with one, and each day ends with one. Once the list is made, I assign a number to each and that’s the order in which it gets done. Small tasks that take minimal time get done first; larger tasks afterwards. Every time something new comes up, it’s added to the list. Every time something is accomplished, it’s literally struck out. (Some people use apps to manage their tasks; I prefer the satisfaction of scratching something off the list).
If you’ve yet to discover the transformative power (no, not an exaggeration) of making 'to do' lists, let me explain why it’s something worth your consideration.
First and foremost, organization, productibity and efficiency.
‘To do’ lists allow you to organize your thoughts and manage your time accordingly. Instead of unmethodically jumping from one task to another (in which case, we hardly accomplish anything), lists allow you to visualize what you must achieve, and strategically make a plan to do so.
By writing down what you need to get done and then prioritizing each item, you can truly focus on the task at hand, rather than allowing your brain to be half-wondering what you need to do next. This relates back to the first point, as it absolutely makes your workday more efficient.
Don’t miss anything.
It happens to everyone; that fleeting thought of, “Oh, I can’t forget to do this, or call her, or e-mail him.” Inevitably, these things often get forgotten. Next time, write it down; add it to your list and you’ll find yourself overlooking things less frequently.
Better determine daily goals.
By creating a “to do” list at the beginning of the day, we can use these tasks to plan our day and reward ourselves throughout. Create a standard system whereby, for example, after checking off five items, you get a coffee and take a 15-minute-break. Once you accomplish another number of items, it’s lunch time, and so on. Having these small rewards will give you the motivation to make it through your ‘to do’ list and also ensure you give yourself mental breaks in between.
Believe it or not, the action of stroking a pen across an accomplished task is not only a great feeling, but also motivation to move on to the next.