Making a to-do list can be a great way to keep track of what still needs to be taken care of. But, there are some common mistakes that you need to be aware of and avoid.
1. Making a to-do list in the morning.
It is better to write your to-do list the night before, because you can write down your tasks and not worry about them—and not spend any precious time organizing your day when you have the energy to get started. You will sleep better and be able to get going on your daily tasks right away.
2. Your list is too long.
Just over 10% of people claim to finish their to-do list each day during an average workday. This is mainly because most people tend to include everything that they need to do on their list. Focus on writing down the three most critical things that you need to accomplish each day. If you are lucky enough to get these three important things done, there will be time left over to accomplish more, but at least you will have finished the most important things. A list that is too long can be overwhelming and lead to avoiding doing any of the tasks.
3. You don’t discriminate.
When you fail to categorize your to-do list, you are making it far more complicated than it probably needs to be. Make sure you have a short-term list and a long-term list, and that you appropriately categorize each item.
4. You aren’t specific.
When you are not specific on your list, your goals will not necessarily be fully accomplished. Make sure that you write down “apply for loan at bank” or “schedule appointment with Dr. Smith” rather than just “bank” and “doctor.” Ambiguity can lead to procrastination.
5. You aren’t setting the right priorities.
Different tasks take different amounts of time to finish. Make sure that you prioritize items, rather than just pick what seems to be the easiest thing to do. Choose the three most important things each day, and make sure you get through one before you even sit down to check your email that day. That is known to be one activity that can quickly suck up a lot of time if you are not careful.
6. You fail to be flexible.
When making your to-do list, you have to keep in mind that you must expect the unexpected. It is easy to get distracted and have to deal with unexpected tasks and chores. Make sure you are not waiting until the last minute to finish things, or you will find that you are overly stressed with deadlines. Account for about an hour of unscheduled time that can be used toward unexpected occurrences, and then, if nothing pops up, then you have some free time to finish something else or just relax.
7. You forget about your bigger goals.
If you cannot seem to properly prioritize your to-do list, you may have lost sight of the bigger goals. If you want to really get things done, than make your priorities clear. Make sure you keep your long-term goals visible so that you can see your progress.
Setting up a to-do list is an important part of being organized, but there are some tricks that will help you to avoid the common pitfalls that interfere with your success.