Writing Wednesday: 3 Simple Ways to Optimise Your To-Do List

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A full to-do list can seem like an overwhelming proposition. Line after line of goals, both short- and long-term, can seem never-ending but not writing down these tasks can be equally intimidating. Fear not, fellow writers and mission undertakers! With just a few tweaks to both your list and your mindset, you will find yourself breezing through tasks and feeling that sought-after rush of accomplishment.

1) Separate your Short- and Long-Term Goals

Surely, not everything on your to-do list is the most important item. If you can separate your goals from your tasks, you will immediately feel some of the panic start to lift. Setting short-term goals that you can cross off quickly will boost your sense of productivity while also helping you accomplish the first steps of a bigger picture. I often find myself sub-dividing these goals, with levels of red stars for priority. Making each task its own achievable goal will ensure you have met the criteria for the greater objective and continue to motivate you toward success.

2) Think of it as a Have-Done List

I love crossing items off my lists. There’s just something about being able to actually look back on all I have accomplished in a day that can’t be recreated by simple reflection alone. Rather than looking at a full page of tasks and feeling overwhelmed, take time to cross off some easy goals and appreciate everything that you’ve already completed. And hey, if you do an extra task that wasn’t on the initial list, there’s no shame in writing it down just to get to cross it off.

3) Pick a Medium that Works for You

The medium you choose for your to-do list has a huge influence over how effective the process will be for you. For some people, using a dayplanner to keep track of daily, weekly and monthly goals is the ideal way to stay on top of the most important tasks as well as the long-term plan. For others, keeping a tight schedule on a computerised table can help set your work hours into helpful time blocks. For me, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned lined notebook. I make a new page each day, transferring over my leftover and long-term goals after adding that day’s new tasks. Physically scratching an item off my list propels me into my next task.

These tips may seem like no-brainers, but we are all guilty of spending too much time planning and not enough actually doing. Taking a moment to organise your to-do list is an extra step in the beginning, but being able to dump all your ideas and goals on paper will lighten your load in the long run, leaving your mind fresh and ready to focus on what really needs to be accomplished.

What is your favourite method for keeping a to-do list?

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