Is a To-Do list as simple as just writing down what you need to get done on a piece of paper, or is there more to it, which could lead to getting better results?
People don’t like “lists” in general. It’s like an authority figure telling you what to do, and our initial instinct is to rebel, even though doing it would be beneficial for us. Also, another issue with typical lists is that it is not visible enough. We write it on a small piece of paper and then put it away. What’s the point then, if you are not reminded of it constantly?
So how can you make a To-Do list more effective. How about putting an incentive or a reward next to each item? This will shift your focus from the task itself to the end result, and remind you of it, so it will be much easier for you to get it done. For example:
– Finish cleaning the kitchen – get yourself that book you wanted
– Complete your taxes for 2007 – start planning that vacation!
More emphasis on the positive reward that comes with a task removes the dreadfulness of completing the task. Learn to “bargain” with yourself. Give yourself something, even the smallest little delight, when you get something out of yourself. This is particularly useful for people that have trouble motivating themselves. This will create an association with a positive, and eventually, you will link doing the tasks on your to-do list with gaining something in return. We all love to get something in return, so use that to your advantage to drive you to completing the items on your list.
Also, I mentioned the visibility. Your list needs to be in your sight as much as possible. Put it on your desk, next to the computer screen, on the fridge, anywhere as long as you are constantly reminded of it. You know the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind”. It couldn’t be truer with to-do lists. Writing it is fine, but then, the list is nowhere to be seen, and all the motivation to get it done is gone too.
Make your list visually appealing too. Use colors, and even pictures if you can, so that it catches your attention, instead of pushing it away. Also, don’t be afraid to update your list. It needs to be a dynamic list, because life is dynamic and things are always evolving. A good way is to keep a soft copy on your computer that can easily be updated, and then just printing the latest version.
Your list should also consist of two parts. The top part should be labeled “Priority” or “Very Important”. This top section will be the items that are crucial that you get done as soon as possible. The bottom part is everything else. The top part should be 15-20% of all the items on your list, and these things cannot wait, they have priority. Now the trick is, simply focus on that 15-20% and get this done properly, and then you can move items from the bottom part to the top part as you cross them out. The benefits of this is many-fold. First, it makes you always work on the most important items. Also, it makes your list appear smaller, as you will simply focus on the top part most of the time, and not really focus on the other items until you move them up.
So there you have it, you should be able to craft an effective list with these tips! Remember:
– Associate incentives/rewards with each task
– Keep your list always visible
– Update your list as needed
– Focus on the 15-20% priority items at all times