Posts Tagged achievements

The power of a simple list

One thing I’ve observed is that people who habitually use simple to-do lists are generally more effective than those who don’t.  I think that’s probably because a simple list serves as a strong foundation that helps you keep objectives in perspective and forget fewer details, plus it provides a good basis for efficient time management.  Generally speaking this tends to make those with lists more organised, more reliable, and more productive.

My dad has made a simple to-do list a part of his life since I have been old enough to notice, and he gets more useful work done than anyone else I know.

I’m not talking about detailed, task-oriented project management here; that’s a discussion for another time.  I’m referring to a simple check list of personal tasks.

If you find yourself struggling to keep up or forgetting little things, give list keeping a try.  Keep a notepad nearby and don’t be afraid to use it.

Here are a few tips for the effective use of to-do lists:

  1. Make it a habit.  Start each day with a look at the previous day’s list and copy over the things that still need doing.
  2. Keep lists short.  A long, unmanageable list is an invitation to procrastination.
  3. Be specific.  Break tasks up into clear, definitive actions.  Doing this avoids ambiguity and helps keep you focused.
  4. Keep tasks achievable.  In addition to the above advice to be specific, setting realistic mileposts reduces frustration.  “Boil the ocean” would be a bad entry, for example.
  5. Prioritise, but be flexible.  Use common sense when arranging your tasks.  Take advantage of your mood, energy, and momentum to get things done, and don’t be afraid to improvise.
  6. Recognise small successes.  Take advantage of your progress to replenish your self-esteem.
  7. Keep the list up to date.  Maybe updating your list once a day isn’t enough.  Nothing invites inefficiency like an outdated set of priorities.

Do you use a list to organise your day?  Please help us out and share one of your favorite tips here.

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