1. Create a check-list
Before you think “Oh come on, I’ve heard this a million times,” let me explain. Most people don’t have a system. Either they keep their check-list in their head, note down a chore one a paper napkin, the next one on a post-it, the other one on a piece of paper and then they forget where they’ve placed them. In the end, they get frustrated. Having things to do is one thing, but trying to find your notes can become an additional problem.
But even if you use a notepad, you can easily get carried away and end up overfloating a to-do list with lots of tasks. Stop right there. It’s an unrealistic plan; you cannot spend one day dealing with two things that end up unfinished by the end of the day and expect the following day to become a super-hero and accomplish twenty. Just create a list with the essentials.
2. Necessary and optional
Create an A-B list. If you’re wondering what this is, it’s simple. The A-list includes what must be done and cannot be postponed. It can be one or two things. Focus your mind on what has to be done and deal with that. Only what is essential has to be completed.
You might be laughing at a one or two single things on your to-do list. However isn’t it true that you end up feeling guilty most of the days because you didn’t complete even a single thing? I have done this a million times, ending up tossing and turning in bed feeling guilty. So take a step back and start with the most basic things that you have to do as simple as they seem.
On the other hand, the B-list includes what should be done but doesn’t have to be accomplished in the next 24 hours. If you prioritize what needs to be done using the A-list, you will be able to include tasks from the B-list and accomplish them in the same day. It will be a bonus accomplishment that will make you feel great. Who doesn’t want that? You will be proud of yourself.
3. How it should be done
OK, you created your list the night before and ready to go on the next morning. However, your notes are too vague. Have you estimated how long it will take you to do them or how to do them? Let’s say that you have a meeting all across the town. If you have to drive for an hour, leave your house an hour and fifteen minutes earlier. There is no reason to get upset while being stuck in traffic.
How many times have you seen a person behind the wheel screaming at the top of their lungs, talking to themselves, looking at their watch in sheer panic? There is no reason to become that guy or girl who everyone stares like they’re an alien who cannot realize that nothing can be done. Avoid the stress by calculating the steps you have to take to accomplish what you have to do. That way, you will have full control of your day.
4. Don’t panic
Take a deep breath and stay away from circumstances that trigger your anxiety. Understanding what has to be done and when can bring tranquility in your life. By utilizing a to-do list, you can prevent unpleasant circumstances.
Have you ever forgotten to go to a party that you were invited a week ago? Have you been to the supermarket to buy a single thing that you needed and left with a bunch of totally other things? It might sound simple, but if it happens once or twice during a day, it can frustrate you and bring you down. Eventually, you will have come up with excuses, repeat tasks, and lose valuable time.
5. Go slow to go fast
Do your task as slowly as possible. It might sound counterintuitive, but it is the only way to finish what’s on your list as soon as possible. Why is that? Simply because you can be concentrated on what you have to do. If you rush like a tornado trying to do everything you can only leave debris behind you.
Nothing will be complete. Just take a different approach and pretend that time has stopped. Focus your mind on what you have to do, and in the end, look at your watch. I’m sure you won’t believe it, you will have done everything in the minimum amount of time. Why is this happening? When time is out of the equation, your mind relaxes and get’s laser-focused on what it has to do. Try it…
6. Adjust your schedule to your personality
Some people are early birds, they wake up at five or six o’clock and are ready to party. Others are night owls, waking up early isn’t their thing, but even when they do, they look like they need to go to back to bed. No one is the same, and there is no rule on how to schedule your daily routine. Some people are most productive during the day while others are during the night. Schedule what you have to do accordingly to your style of living.
7. Create habits
Routines are a perfect way to deal with the things that you have to do. Let’s say you wake up every day at seven o’clock, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and you’re out the door heading to your office. That becomes a habit; you don’t wake up looking at your walls, thinking about what to do.
You’re not thinking… Should you take a shower first or eat breakfast or get dressed? Even if you did, your walls would stare back at you, but you wouldn’t get a single answer. This applies to many things, like going to the gym. If one day you are bored and lay on the couch, you can quickly end up messing with your thoughts about staying a bit longer at home, going to the gym an hour later and end up feeling tired during your workout.
8. Multitasking isn’t an option
If you’re not a trained juggler who does this for a living, multitasking isn’t your thing. Our brain can focus only on one thing; in reality, when we are multitasking, we are switching from one task to another, leaving each one unfinished. Our mind can be concentrated only at a single thing. Writing an email, talking on the phone, while thinking about the meeting that will start in a few minutes can end up in disaster. Have you ever clicked send and watched in slow motion the email disappear from your screen while seeing a different file attached to it than the one you wanted?
9. Reward yourself
Doing things for yourself is very important. When everything is planned, your stress levels lower to the minimum, and you can enjoy your free time. Have fun, go out with your friends, go shopping, take a nap, read a book, go to the movies… You should enjoy the benefits of having time for yourself. The point of creating to-do lists is to have more free time to do whatever pleases you. To-do notes are a tool, as long as you make good use of them, they can fix almost anything. Don’t forget that rich people have money and wealthy people have time.
10. Enjoy the process even if it feels boring
I know that all the things on your to-do list might not be your favorite thing. Cleaning your house, preparing a presentation for your work, going to the supermarket and the to-do list goes on and on… Does it have to be this way? Only if you want to. Try to make them as pleasant as you can, and you will see a huge difference.
Turn on the music and let’s go clean your house. Sing, dance while mopping the floor. I mean, did you know you were a rock-star? Having a good mood can transform something as mundane as cleaning into a real party. Just don’t try this in the office. There you can create an organized environment that will help you stay focused. Additionally, you can take some short breaks from your computer screen and find ways to deal effectively with the things that you have to do by focusing every time at a single task.
11. Is reality making you miserable?
When you have many things to do, you can quickly get stressed, and that can bring you down. If every day feels like a struggle, then sooner or later, you can end up feeling depressed. Bad psychology can affect your health and the way you deal with your everyday life. As simple as it sounds a to-do list can relieve stress and make your daily routine much more relaxed and healthier.
12. Plan ahead of time
Some tasks cannot be accomplished in a single day. No need to worry, break them down in steps. If you want to lose weight, you have to go through a period where you will have a plan of what to eat and when to exercise. That includes planning and preparing your grocery list for the week and scheduling your workout days. That can be done days ahead. This applies to many things that take time. If you wake up every day and then try to plan, you can easily mess up. Why should you set yourself for failure when you can easily avoid it?
13. Do nothing
Can you lay down and just do nothing? Sometimes that is what we need to recharge. Making time to relax is very important. It can help you to come up with new ideas, or find a solution to a problem. If you think that daydreaming is a total waste of time, you’re wrong.
Every one of us has experienced an aha moment while daydreaming. This can happen while starring out the window, taking a shower or being submerged in your thoughts if you feel stressed, schedule some time to just relax. It can help you come up with ways to deal with what you have in your to-do list effectively.
14. Move your body
Another way to become more productive is to exercise. Moving your body can help you relax your brain, increase your memory, concentration, and thinking skills. Also, you will have increased energy levels, feel happier, and will have a perfect body. Why wait till summer? Get that bikini body right now and enjoy these extra benefits.
15. Feel good after accomplishing the day’s to-do list
Did you check everything off your list? Well, good for you. Do something that feels like a reward to you. When you get used to this feeling, and you associate it with something that pleases you, you will continue to use a to-do list in your everyday routine. Not only will it make your life easier, but you’ll feel great and be proud of yourself.
16. Ask for help
When you feel stuck, ask for help. Having to deal with a task might be challenging. Why should you spend time trying to do something or find a solution when you can get help? It could be a co-worker, a friend, or a family member. Asking for help or advice on a topic can speed up the process of achieving your goals.
17. Bring back to life your dead time
Dead time can come alive. For example, when you are commuting browse through the internet to find a new recipe. Now you can have a list of the ingredients, and on your way back you can pick up the stuff you don’t have, and you’re ready to go. Enjoy a different meal with your partner.
Change your routine; it will help you become happier and able to enjoy more things. Are you always going to the same coffee shop with your friends? Check to see what’s the new hot place in the neighborhood. You can also listen to a podcast or an audiobook while you’re driving. Explore what you can do, learn, and enjoy every single day.
18. Don’t be too hard on yourself
You aren’t a robot; not every day can be as productive as the day before. That’s how life goes. Some days are more prolific, while others even a single thing can seem like climbing Mount Everest. Don’t feel guilty if things don’t go as planned. The point of having a to-do list is to know what you have to do. Sometimes those things cannot be accomplished at the given time, just move them on your schedule. The point is to make your life easier and beautiful.