The art of writing a *good* list

Every feel like your brain is ready to burst with tasks begging to get done?   

You’re not alone.  There’s plenty of evidence to show that anxiety rises with your number of outstanding tasks.  A study by professors Baumeister and Masicampo from Wake Forest University showed that our brains focus on outstanding tasks, causing levels of anxiety to rise.  Whereas, planning tasks has a marked effect on lowering levels of anxiety. 

So how do you make the perfect to-do list? 

  1. Write down all the task you need to do 
  2. Delete any which are of low value 
  3. Break down large tasks into smaller manageable tasks – i.e. break ‘social media’ into bite-sized chunks such as content plan, design posts, write captions etc) 
  4. Highlight any tasks that are important – i.e. those that need to get done but do not have an urgent deadline 
  5. Highlight any important tasks that need doing immediately 
  6. Get cracking! 

 There you have it, an effective to-do list! 

Next steps are to put your list in motion so here are my favourite techniques 

  1. Focus on your urgent and important tasks first.  These are the tasks that will move your business or productivity forward and are time pressing.  Then follow with your important tasks. This technique is called Eisenhower’s matrix – there’s a great video here explaining how it works.  
  2. Set yourself 1 large task and 3 smaller tasks to do daily.  One task a day will still move your business forward.  
  3. Schedule in breaks (I like the Pomodoro technique for effective working.  Schedule 24 minutes of high impact work followed by breaks of 5 minutes.  Watch this handy video for more detail).  

Last but not least: There are certain tasks that should never ‘land’ on your to-do list – i.e. if you can do it straight away then you don’t need to worry about adding it to the list. Examples include: sharing a contact with someone, booking a train ticket or a haircut, or arranging a playdate for your child.

Check out my other productivity blogs here – 

Planning Series Part 1 – My favourite prioritising analogy

Planning Series Part 2 – Time-Blocking

Planning Series Part 3 – Journals & Planners

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