Why do we fail at our To-Do Lists?
If you are someone who has ever created a To-Do list in hopes of improving your productivity and focus there are high chances that you have failed to complete the tasks on that list. A LinkedIn survey found that only 11% of working professionals complete all their tasks on a To-Do list.
According to an article on Forbes that researched on billionaires, Olympians, entrepreneurs, and straight-A students, the three biggest problems with To-Do Lists are:
- First, a to-do list doesn’t account for time.
- Second, a to-do list doesn’t distinguish between urgent and important.
- Third, to-do lists contribute to stress.
At I Done This they found that 41% of the tasks on To-Do lists are never completed and yet 63% of people including those who hate To-Do lists have one! Having said all this, we are probably going to continue creating To-Do lists and it’s about time we do use effective strategies to create and manage these lists in order to get focus, perspective, and overall productivity out of our To-Do lists.
Four Strategies To Master Your To-Do Lists
1. Inbox Zero
A clean inbox is associated with a feeling of achievement and productivity. Luckily for us, we can take inspiration from this strategy and apply it to our daily tasks and To-Do lists. According to the “Inbox Zero” technique, label all your tasks into Delegate, Defer, Delete, Respond and Do. Each task should fall into one of these categories. With any new task being deleted if it doesn’t really need to be done, delegate if someone else could handle it for you, respond if you need further clarity or collaboration, defer and postpone if it is not urgent and finally DO if it absolutely needs to be done by you. Focus on only tasks in the Do category and needless to say, get it done! It may take a while to get into the process and habit of categorizing the tasks but it if your To-Do list has given you serious anxiety in the past it may be time to try out different approaches until you discover one that sticks and works for you!
2. The Difficult One First
Getting sorted on your most difficult task for the day first thing in the morning sets the right tone and mood for a productive day in an ideal world. The reason why I say this is because it is not always in our control to do the most difficult task and schedule it for the first thing in the morning. Let’s say you need to do your “Deep Work” for a project in the morning but you have meetings scheduled with clients or your boss or that you want to prioritize exercise in the morning but due to your work timing, it only fits in your evening schedule.
However there are many cases where this could actually be done and in that case, you need clarity on what the task is which is most difficult and dreadful, what is the deadline for said task and stick it preferably on your mirror or arrange for everything you will need to complete the task. Do not be that person who begins cleaning their room for exams when they need to be studying for a said exam (because they can only study in a clean space). Clean your room the night before!
3. The Kanban Method
This technique involves creating three columns for tasks. Invented by Toyota for workflow, in the Kanban method you organize your tasks into To-Do, Doing and Done and move them along the flow chain. You can easily create this at home or work with post-it notes on a wall and put them in three sections. Not only will it help you visualize the work at hand but also allow you to easily check the details and deadlines. Applications like KanvanFlow and Trello help you organize tasks in this method. By focusing on progression you will find it easier to get closer to completion.
4. The Ivy Lee Method
The trust of To-do lists is that it creates pressure, increasing stress with tasks that sometimes deep down we know that we will never really do. The Ivy Lee methods focus on prioritizing tasks, choosing only six important tasks to focus on. How to use the Ivy Lee Method:
- Note down the six tasks you need to accomplish the next day
- Put them in order of priority
- Focus on the first task first. Work on it until it is completely finished before moving on to the next task.
- Add to the list only after a task is completed to replace it and maintain the number six for a new day. Do this every day.
After sharing these To-Do list strategies with you, I hope you can effectively employ one of them or try each one until you find one that works best for you. If you are someone like me and find yourself creating To-Do lists on different applications such as Evernote, One Note, Google Keep, Trello and Wunderlist and are frustrated having to keep them in check and sync, there’s an easy solution for you.
Wyzebulb’s integrations will allow you to automate and integrate your various apps, calendars, time management, and productivity tools under a single platform.
If you liked this blog post, don’t forget to stay subscribed to Wyzebulb Blog to never miss an article. Share your thoughts below on which strategy would you be using to manage your tasks and if you have any To-Do lists secrets that work wonders for you, leave them in the comments below!