Get your life organised with these top tips from Minty direct lender Loans.
What do you think about To Do lists? Do you have one . . . or perhaps several? Or do you think they are just a waste of time?
Interestingly, new research from SOAS (the London University School of Oriental and African Studies) has shown that women enjoy To Do lists far more than men. Not only because To Do lists help them to multitask, but also because they enjoy the creative process of the making of the list itself.
For those who love To Do lists, they find them a genuine help with making sure no task is forgotten, and act as a useful record of what has been done and when. Whilst those who have tried to use To Do lists and find they don’t work are likely to reach the conclusion that perhaps the time creating a To Do list could be better spent actually doing rather than planning!
But who is right? Are To Do lists worth making or not?
In this article we dip into the world of To Do lists and take a look at:
Put simply, a To Do list is a list of tasks that you need to get done. It may be an ongoing list to which you add things on or cross things off as needed, or you may prefer to make a fresh list every day or week. Or perhaps even a combination of all those things.
Although many people associate To Do lists with work, they can also be helpful in various other areas of your life, for example:
Whatever you use your To Do list for, there are some key aspects to making it work for you, and we will cover those later in this article. But first, let’s take a look at why To Do lists sometimes fail.
One of the joys of creating a To Do list is that it helps you to feel in control of everything that you need to get done, and ensure that nothing is missed. However, one of the dangers of this is that you can be lulled into a false sense of security : somehow thinking that just because something is on your list it will automatically get done. So in reality, it is not the To Do itself list that fails, but what you then do with it that counts.
Having said that, there are some common mistakes that people make with To Do lists, that can almost guarantee things won’t end well. Here are three of those mistakes:
When creating a To Do list, it’s important to be realistic. Whilst it really does help to have a list in front of you of everything that you need to do, you also need to consider the time you will need to do each of those things. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say.
So if you make a list on Monday morning of all the jobs you have to do over the coming week, don’t get frustrated if Tuesday comes and you haven’t done many of them. Each task needs enough time to get it done properly. And you need to prioritise the most important ones . . . .
Whether you use a daily, weekly or ongoing To Do list, you need to make sure that it includes some way of getting the most important things – also known as MITs – done first. A To Do list can fail to be useful if you just work through it in order, because there may be more urgent tasks further down the list.
So when you make a list, either keep changing the order so that the most urgent things are on top, or allocate a deadline to each task so you can see what you need to get done first.
A third mistake many people make is not being specific enough. If you have a big task to do – for example organise an office Christmas party – you need to break it down into chunks, known as subtasks. There is no point just adding “organise office party” onto your list because chances are you will keep skipping over that one and do something quicker and simpler instead.
But if you have specific subtasks such as sending emails about dates or dietary preferences, researching and shortlisting venues, getting volunteers for a music playlist, photo booth, Secret Santa etc you can start tackling different aspects of the larger task one at a time.
So, bearing the above in mind, how can you create a To Do list that works?
First of all, think carefully about how you work best. If you love using a computer or laptop, you could either use task lists on your email provider – for example Google or Microsoft – or create a spreadsheet. If you are more a phone person, there are many apps that can help you create and manage To Do lists. Or you may prefer to write your To Do lists by hand, either on sheets of paper or perhaps a pretty notebook.
It really doesn’t matter how you create your To Do list, as long as it is in a format that you know you can work with.
Once you’ve decided this, try these three tips to make your To Do list work for you:
Whatever format your list is in, if there are too many items on there you will just look at it and want to give up. It is more effective and motivating to keep it brief.
If you genuinely have so much to do that you don’t know where to start, then set up one master list with absolutely everything on it, so that you have the reassurance that nothing will be missed. But then make a short To Do list at the beginning of every day or week by transferring a manageable number of items from the master list. You can then get on with these without being overwhelmed by everything else, and knowing that completing each smaller task will also gradually decrease the length of that daunting master list.
Some items on your To Do list will have natural deadlines, but it’s also a good idea to give yourself deadlines to get other things done. Otherwise, if you have a task with no deadline, it is likely to keep getting overlooked and could stay on your list for months. In which case, should it be on there at all? Does it matter? Sometimes you need to make the decision to let things go and cross them off your list, rather than let them drag on.
If something does need doing, set yourself a deadline to get it done, and think just how good it will feel to complete it and cross it off your To Do list.
Leading on from deadlines, you also need to be realistic about when you are actually going to do each task. It won’t just happen: you need to dovetail it in with everything else that is happening in your life.
It can often help to block out time to do certain things. Plan your time so that you know – for example – you are going to spend Wednesday morning working on one particular task on your list until it’s finished.
Blocking out time can also enable you to multitask between different items on your To Do list. For example, if there are three tasks that involve making phone calls, why not set aside half an hour and try to get all three calls done? It can be more efficient to find a quiet space, gather all the information you need and have a notepad and pen at the ready, then get on with all your calls at once rather than have to keep doing that at different times during the day.
We hope this article has helped you to decide whether to use To Do lists, how to create one, and common mistakes to avoid. And do remember to celebrate all that you manage to get done, rather than focusing solely on all that you still need to do. A To Do list can help you in this way by providing a record of all the items you have crossed off, as well as the ones that are still there.