How to become expert in time management Part 3. In this third and final article of mastering the art of time management, we’re going to further explore guidelines for building thorough to-do lists.
How to Become Expert In Time Management Part 3
How to Becoming a to-do list building master?
To-Do List Best Practices
Keep It Short & Sweet – In building your main to-do list, it is understandable that the first list you build will be quite long and detailed. But as you continue in your efforts, refining your list-building skills, and fully grasping the concept of prioritizing tasks, delegating work to others, etc., your life will become a lot simpler.
Focus on keeping all three of your lists (main, day, and future) comprehensive, but concise. If your lists contain too much detail, you may become overwhelmed and lose your motivation to complete each of the items.
Putting a number on it – how many items should your lists contain?
Try to limit your main list to no more than 20 items. Purpose to complete five older tasks before adding any new ones to the list. It will maintain your list at about the same length and it will be manageable.
Remember that just the act of making the lists will not make you an effective time manager. The lists themselves are simply organizational tools to keep your tasks on track and completed on time. They keep your tasks in one place and in front of you so that you do not lose track of them. Should you choose to give in to procrastination or giving up on your to-do lists altogether, they will not be any help to you.
Don’t Add Commonplace Activities – The purpose of your to-do list is to keep track of activities that come up in addition to your everyday activities.
What not to put on your to-do list
Everyday activities that you do not need to put on your to-do list are things like, “brush your teeth,” “have breakfast,” “drive to work,” etc. These activities are already part of your normal routine. They come up every single day and you don’t need to be reminded to do them, nor do they need to be scheduled into your day.
Rather focus on including things that are a little bit “more” than your usual everyday tasks. Items that require more time and effort, items that need to be “fit in” to your day are appropriate for your to-do list. Important appointments and meetings can be added to your to-do list as well.
Hammer the Hard Tasks First – Your to-do lists are going to be a compilation of a lot of different tasks. Tasks that take a long time to complete and tasks that take very little time to complete. A lot of times if we’re feeling overwhelmed by all we have to do, we want to tackle the simple tasks first. Yet, sometimes there are so many “little” things to be done that it takes time away from the more time-consuming items on our lists that also need to be completed.
Try to strike a balance between easy and more difficult tasks. You’ll feel more accomplished knowing that you took care of some more challenging tasks. In fact, try to make a time-consuming task the first task you tackle for the day.
Once you’ve chosen that first time-consuming task, continue work on it until you’ve finished it or completed at least 50% of the work on it.
It’s important that you stick with it and don’t give up early on in the process because the task is “too challenging” or “too time-consuming.” How complex a task or project is will determine how much time you need to spend working on it – and that will determine your schedule and what tasks you take on for the rest of the day.
Be Flexible and Adaptable – As you move through this process of learning to manage your time, it’s important that you remain as flexible with the process and with yourself as possible. Any degree of inflexibility when it comes to your schedule and you will get overwhelmed and frustrated very quickly when you ponder all of the important tasks you still have to accomplish.
This is especially important when you consider the one challenging task per day you will be taking on. You can only do that when you are prepared for the daily work that’s ahead of you. Be mindful of how you think and what you feel when planning out your days. Being prepared is always the best course of action for success.
Work With Your Organic Schedule – Another important aspect of success in time management is to find out what block of time works best for you to accomplish your daily tasks. Some people work best in the morning, some are night owls, still, others work best after lunch.
Once you figure out what time slot works best for you, make sure you schedule your most difficult tasks during that time when you’re most productive. Working during your prime productivity window might make those difficult tasks seem like less of a challenge.
Conversely, schedule less challenging or easier tasks during times of the day when your productivity is low or your energy is on the lower side – when mentally you can only handle the smaller tasks.
If you’re working a regular full-time job, you don’t always have a choice as to your working hours. You are expected to be productive during the time that you’re there. But you can provide yourself a reprieve by scheduling periods of rest throughout the day – ideally between difficult tasks – so that you have a moment of rest and refresh before taking on the next challenge.
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This will help to quell any feelings of being overwhelmed, even if mentally, you do not feel equipped to handle them at a given time.