Daily To Do List: How Productive is your to-do list really?
Daily to do list are a common way to manage tasks for types of people. Used for work, home, and well… for some – at any given opportunity. They can range from some scribbled notes on paper, to lists constructed using the various digital tools available – Excel, Google or Microsoft. Although they can take many different forms – the desired outcome is always the same.
To complete every task on the list!
The problem is, whilst checking off your daily activities can bring great, short-term satisfaction whatever your tasks – have you ever thought about whether these tasks are actually the most productive for your business? The chances are, it may have never even crossed your mind.
Is your to do list hindering your productivity?
There’s a simple way to find out – if you answer ‘no’ to either of these questions – you probably need to change your tact.
- Are your tasks really ‘tasks?’ In other words, can they be described as tasks, rather than projects?
- Are the tasks completable in 2 hours maximum?
If you answered no to either of these – you’re probably not using the system to a full potential.
So, how to optimise your daily to do list?
The thing is, a daily todo list can offer so much more than just a reminder of work you need to complete. To be the most productive they can be, they need to relate to the long-term goals. In other words, create your daily to do list with the overall project in mind – what short-term actions do I need to take in order to accomplish my long-term goal?
It’s this mindset that keeps us proactive, and one step ahead on our projects. If you’re simply thinking about your day to day activities, your failing to see the bigger picture – how today’s activities fall into the weekly, monthly and yearly activities.
Although it may seem like your trusted daily to do list has just been given a complex layer – there are a number of methodologies that can help you to structure and organise your tasks – so let’s have a look at them.
The 1-3-5 Rule
This 1-3-5 rule is a simple one. Each week you set out your tasks for the week ahead, making sure you include the following.
- 1 major task
- 3 medium tasks
- 5 small tasks
It doesn’t matter what type of tasks they are – regular tasks, urgent tasks that have come up as a result of a team meeting, or they could be tasks that weren’t completed the week before. Whatever tasks you add – make sure they follow the rule, and they are both manageable and actionable. For example, instead of writing ‘Client X design deliverables,’ write ‘Client X draft design for brand logo.’
The best thing about using this methodology is that it ensures that you are working on daily activities, but also on deliverables and big projects.
The Eisenhower method, Eisenhower decision matrix or urgent-important matrix was indeed developed by the well-known American president from the 50s, Dwight D. Eisenhower. If there’s any work position in the world which means you have to make tough decisions, it’s this one – and so an excellent daily to do list is certainly in order.
The method involves prioritising tasks based on importance and urgency, and there are 4 ways to distinguish between tasks.
Focus on the most important tasks first, do these today! Using a timer is a handy way to help you concentrate better on these tasks.
Still important, but not quite as urgent – these tasks can be scheduled. This leaves little room for becoming flustered – if it can’t be done today, it will get done as it’s in the plan!
It’s urgent, but less important. Delegate to others. For example, if someone wants you to be present at a meeting that day, someone may be better suited to go in your place. Always ensure you keep track of delegated tasks.
If it’s not either urgent or important – don’t do at all. This could do wonders for your productivity levels – do I really need to be doing this? Something we all need to be asking from time to time!
Ivy Lee method
The Ivy Lee Method has been around for 100 years, yes that’s right – 100! Developed in 1918 by a business productivity consultant, Ivy Lee, for one of the biggest businessmen in America at the time. When giving the advice, Lee humbly said ‘after three months, you can send me a cheque for however much you think it’s worth.’
He later received a cheque of $25,000 (worth around $400,000 in 2015).
Now that’s got your attention, let’s see how this method works.
- At the end of each working day, write down the 6 most important and urgent tasks that need to be accomplished tomorrow (no more than 6!), ordering tasks ordered in order of priority.
- The next day work through the to-do list (starting at the top), only moving onto the next task when the previous is finished. Any unfinished tasks can be moved to the following days list – and the whole process starts again.
Again, simplicity is key.
Eating your Frog
Eat the frog is another method that can be applied almost anywhere. The frog refers to the uncomfortable, distasteful task that you need to do – you just necessarily don’t want to.
Eating the frog however, means getting that awful frog out of the way – and quick.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it First Thing in the Morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the BIGGEST one first.” — Mark Twain
Moving forward with your day after completing the one (or two) jobs you don’t like, is a great way to feel accomplished and gain momentum for the rest of the day’s activities.
You need to be able to identify your frogs too – remember it’s a job that you don’t like, but it is also necessary. If it’s not necessary – why are you doing it?
Remember the lean methodology – is the frog task adding value?
Themed-to do list
If you’re a busy person with multiple projects and assignments– then why not split your projects into separate lists?
For example, if you’re an event manager – split your events into separate lists. It’s a great way to give your brain a break from trying to do the separation itself – which can be near-on impossible.
How do you keep track of your daily to-do list?
Although there are many ways to keep on top of your daily to do list – the easiest way is to use an app. With the majority of us in possession of a smartphone that never leaves our side – your daily to-do list is accessible wherever you are – and there’s no lost scraps of paper, or having to sift through files on the computer to find the document you saved – where did I save my list again?
That’s why here at Checkify, we have created a user-friendly, daily to do list app designed to help you with task management and work to your most productive and efficient level.
Don’t ever lose a to-do list again!