How To Do A To Do List

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Surveys conducted by various polling agencies throughout the United States report that Americans are feeling as stressed as ever, with over 75% of adults saying that they feel stressed sometimes or frequently throughout the day. About half of those same adults report feeling like they just don’t have enough time in their day to do all that they want.

It fascinates me that in a day and age when you can:

  • shop for just about anything online and have it delivered within 2 days (thank you, Amazon Prime!);

  • order your coffee ahead of time from your phone;

  • get dinner delivered to your front door;

  • have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your doorstep; etc…

… we still don’t feel like we have enough time to complete everything we need to get done.

This has me wondering – do we really not have enough time or are we just not using our time wisely?

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If you’re like me, you feel the constant notion that you have a million things to do. With only 24 hours in a day - 16 hours if you eliminate the ideal 8 hours a day that you should be sleeping – it is vital that tasks are identified and prioritized to maximize productivity. The simplest way to do this is to create a To Do list (or two) using the steps I’ve outlined below:

  1. Sit down with a pad of paper (or your phone, if you prefer to work electronically) and start jotting down any and every task that comes to your mind. I typically write down everything – no matter how small - including laundry, packing lunches, and sending messages.

  2. Divide your list into different categories of your choosing: some ideas are Work vs. Personal, Must Do vs. Want To Do, Chores vs. Errands.

  3. Within those categories, arrange tasks in order of importance, time sensitivity, and/or ease of completion. Come up with some way of marking the most important items for emphasis, for example by underlining or adding a star. You may even find it helpful to add due dates to necessary tasks.

  4. Develop a strategy for tackling each item on your list. For some this might mean starting at the top and working their way down, while for others it might mean knocking out the “gimmes” to create time and space for the more strenuous or important tasks. I often complete the most time-sensitive tasks first, then knock out the easiest ones, and finish up with the more strenuous and time-consuming tasks.

Many people find having a To Do list helpful to organize their workload and priorities. Others find it helpful to have such lists in order to cross out completed tasks; using this visualization to help a person feel accomplished and stay motivated, rather than getting overwhelmed thinking about all the things they still have to do.

Whatever your prime reason, having a To Do list will help you to stay on track and accomplish all that you need to accomplish with less stress.