Are you being mocked by a never-ending to-do list? You’re definitely not alone. A recent survey found that only one in ten of us actually accomplish everything we set out to do every day. So here are a few tips to help you take control of your to-dos:
First: Create more than one list. Time-management expert Ken Zeigler says that most people make one gigantic list and put “buy milk” on the same page as “prepare for annual review.” This creates an overwhelmingly large list that lumps together unrelated tasks. For maximum productivity, Zeigler recommends keeping a weekly master list where you write down EVERYTHING you need to get done and then break that down into manageable daily lists that group “like” items together, a workplace list, a grocery list, and a “projects that need a screwdriver” list.
Next: Give everything on your list an expiration date. Efficiency expert Peter Bregman says that we accomplish more when we set specific deadlines. For example, instead of writing down: “buy new blinds," try “buy new blinds by Thursday afternoon.” Because when we aim for a deadline, we’re more likely to actually reach our goal. Our expert also says if something stays on your to-do list for more than three days, you need to re-categorize it one of two ways: Either it’s important enough to do right away or it’s unimportant enough to skip altogether.
The final way to take control of your to-do list: Update your workplace list at the end of the day, not when you arrive in the morning. Career consultant Joanne Cleaver says that making an action list of the items you want to tackle first thing keeps you from getting sidetracked by phone calls, email, and chatty coworkers. It makes you more likely to finish your to-do list early.