Is your to-do list system working for you? Or do you feel like a slave to a never-ending list of tasks? Worse, are you constantly anxious you might drop the ball on something with so many projects simultaneously in motion?
No one wants to forget an item due to simple human error, because it makes you feel like a weak employee, and makes employers view you as scattered and undependable.
Good news: You can bulletproof your to-do list (and your peace of mind) with a few key tweaks. Today, you’ll learn how top performers use to-do lists.
Even better? Through these steps you’ll stop feeling like a hamster in a wheel and start feeling like a true boss – even if you’re just an individual contributor today.
Top performers automate their workflow through to-do lists so they never have to worry about letting a task slip through the cracks.
The most accomplished executives I’ve worked with summarize every meeting and phone call with the key action items that need to happen, and who’s responsible for each one. Start ending your meetings with this approach and your team will gain a new level of clarity and direction – not to mention, productivity.Bonus? You’ll be seen as a leader for encouraging an accountability system.
Through working with thousands of A-players I’ve had the opportunity to observe what the best employees and executives are doing to manage their days, and I’m excited to share their tools with you.
Follow these steps to eliminate the possibility of forgetting something, wow your boss, and uplevel your output, starting today…
1. Maintain one digital and one physical to-do list.Make sure you can access both of them from anywhere. For the digital version, use an app on your smartphone, such as Todoist or Evernote.Keep it up to date down to the hour, and update it every morning and night.If you prefer a physical to-do list, keep a small notebook with you that you can easily carry anywhere. Draw a little box next to each task and check them off as you complete them.2. Utilize your to-do list, but live by your calendar.The biggest reason people feel like they have an endless to-do list is because they’re not being realistic about how much time they need to complete each task. Making this mistake will lead you to feel like a hamster!According to Forbes, “Research from the company iDoneThis indicates that 41% of all to-do list items are never completed!”
How crazy is that?!By transferring your to-do list to your smartphone calendar, you’re more likely to be realistic about how much time you need to block off for each task. Once an item is on your calendar, you’re much more likely to complete it when you say you will.At the end of every day, update your digital or physical to-do lists, and then load your tasks into your smartphone calendar for the next day. Get nitty gritty here and schedule even your 15-minute tasks.
3. Acknowledge your individuality.The best to-do list system is the one that actually works for you. While the system I’m presenting here is what works best for many top performers, I encourage you to experiment and find what’s most effective for you through trial and error.A to-do list is a tool, and it just needs to effectively help you get your tasks done and protect you from dropping the ball. You could try the Tasks tool in Outlook, an Excel spreadsheet, a simple Word document with each day’s to-dos typed out, and/or Google Docs/Calendars.
If you neglect to find a formal to-do list system that’s truly practical for you, you risk forgetting items, failing to follow through, and ultimately losing credibility with your peers, supervisors, and clients. A true career killer!Once you get into a rhythm with your to-do list it’ll become a supportive ritual that you couldn’t imagine living without. Your daily list is there to help you – not overwhelm you. Leverage it to your benefit!
You can decrease your anxiety and skyrocket your productivity by following the three steps outlined in this article.What works for you when it comes to to-do lists? Do you need to tweak your approach? Share your wisdom with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.