Sunday, 27 October 2013

How to Make your To-Do list work for you:

With so many things to be done, listing things down has been a productivity hack for ages but only few have mastered the skill of making their to do lists work for them. If you are merely adding items to the list without ever getting them struck off the list as “Done”, you are doing it wrong. Here are few tips that you’ll find helpful in making this amazing time management tool as your beloved friend.
You might have an essay to write, an assignment to submit, a presentation to prepare or a major deadline to meet. DON’T write them on your to-do list. A complete project that takes more than a day to complete should never be written on the to-do list EVER. The sheer enormity of the work that lies ahead of us in the form of that project cripples our productivity, leaves us fearful and encourages us to procrastinate.  
Stuffing to-do list with projects seldom get things done as we only keep looking at something monstrous and hardly ever find courage to start working on it. For example, let’s say, I have a presentation to make in five days that can have a huge impact on my career. Every time I’ll look at my list, my heart will pound and I’ll try to escape the pressure by avoiding it completely. Don’t do it.
Break your projects into smaller tasks. Write, only those tasks on your to-do list that you intend to get done on a particular day. Continuing with the earlier quoted example, let’s say for that particular presentation, I need to gather information, do meaningful analysis, make graphs, and be prepared for possible questions. I’ll include merely gathering information as a part of Day 1’s to-do list. Ah! Already feel less stressed.
We can achieve 80% of the results by focusing on merely 20% of important tasks that really matter. So, once you write down all the TASKS that you plan to get done, start prioritizing them. Sorting them into four categories, important & Urgent, Important but not Urgent, Not important but Urgent and Not important and Not Urgent, really helps.
Be honest. Meeting your friends might be important to the social bug inside you, but is it really going to help you achieve your goals? Prioritization should take place in the light of the goals that you have set for yourself. In this way, you’ll manage your time to get closer to achieving those goals EVERY SINGLE DAY.
You should always have an estimation of the time required by each task. For example, a significant task might require 2 hours and replying an important email may take only 10 minutes. This estimation will leave you in a good position to plan your day. Let’s say I have an appointment to make, I’ll try to plan it while I commute to my office or during my lunch break. Getting smaller tasks done while you commute or wait can leave handsome amount of time for important more challenging tasks.
Our attention span is very small. We can’t stay focused for more than 60 minutes; unless, deadline is too close to ignore. Working in 60 Minutes undistracted slots is the best way to get maximum done. If you start your day at 9:00 am and work till 5:00 pm, you’ll have approximately 4 to 5 “60 Minutes slots” in which your productivity will be at its peak. Set yourself a timer (I like to use time timer), keep your cell phone aside, swear to not check any social media website and just focus on the task at hand. After 60 minutes, take a break, socialize with colleagues for 5-10 minutes and get ready for another session.
I couldn’t find anything powerful than 2 minute rule when it comes to time management. Any task that requires 2 or less minute should get done immediately. I have modified this rule a bit though. I set aside 15 minutes in between 60 minutes slots as my time to get things done that require 2 minutes. It’s my way of utilizing my break hours. So, when my timer says 60 minutes session is over, I rewind the timer but this time for 15 minutes and get 2 minutes task done like responding to email, making calls, cleaning up my desk, filing important papers etc.
At the end of every day, I like to score my performance. Let’s say I have
TYPE 1 (Total 2 Tasks to be completed): Important and urgent task completed: 4 Points
TYPE 2 (Total 3 Tasks to be completed): Important and Non-urgent task completed: 3 Points
TYPE 3 (Total 3 Tasks to be completed): Non-Important and Urgent task completed: 2 Points
TYPE 4 (Total 2 Tasks to be completed): Non-Important and Non-Urgent task completed: 1 Point
My maximum score on this particular day will be 25 (8+9+6+2). If I score more than 75% I reward myself on good performance.
Writing things down in to-do list increases the chances that you’ll have them completed. I have found it very productive to plan my day the night before. These are my tips that I use every day to stay on top of my schedule and make most of the day. I would love to hear from you, what you do and how you squeeze out the maximum out of 24 hours.

Image Credit: 1

1 comment:

  1. hm m m ..Last point is good enough to track performance. Thanks!


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