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7 MUST KNOW hacks on creating the BEST to do list

We’ve all been there! I mean to have fallen into the trap of doing too much at once – which pushes us to the bridge of exhaustion. This is something that is defined as multitasking in the professional world. But in reality, this is what’s termed as juggling too many things.

We sit at our workspace with the intention of getting on with an important project but decide to fire off a quick email before getting started. Next thing we know, we’ve spent sixty minutes going back and forth with the recipient, replied to a couple of Whats App and Insta DMs and now… we are nowhere nearer to starting the task we’d originally intended to work on. This is exactly where the de-motivation demon (that’s what I call it: P) starts to creep in.

To do lists is a lot more than jotting things down to do for the day. It is rather therapeutic and I will tell you 3 main reasons as to why having a to do list actually works.

(i) You have a clear direction

Think about this for a moment. When you have a list or something like a map to your tasks for the day, you know exactly where you’re going and it gives you that feel of lightness that you have. Needless to say, that you have everything sorted out and nothing can ruin your trajectory towards it. Every time you look at the list, it reinforces the information in your memory, making it unlikely that you will forget a commitment. Students and working professionals are often encouraged to use lists as study aids to increase retention of facts

(ii) It reduces stress and anxiety

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article online about stress among working professionals.

We all have those days when there are a million things to do, and we don't know how we're going to get it all done. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the vast quantity of tasks that we must do from day to day. When we get too busy, we end up feeling like we are barely able to keep our heads above water.

And that’s why having something dedicated written in a place which is visible to you keep you reminding otherwise.

That sense of relief that you get while ticking off something is truly incomparable.

(iii) It aids in improving focus and productivity

If you record all your tasks in a to-do list, you can easily review the list and prioritize the most important tasks. Why waste time on trivial activities when there are important matters that need your attention?

To know more on the above lines, I would recommend you to go through the book “The Seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen R Covey. Most of my hacks which are given in this post have been from the learning that I had gained from the book.

But hold on…. Am I forcing you to start practicing in having a list? NO…. Absolutely not! That’s not something I preach to my readers.

Now, I presume you all would have understood where I’m coming from. I must confess one thing before you begin to scroll down through the post. I just want to say, that it took me lots of trial and error methods to find the best and of course the realistic hack of creating a to do lists that actually works.

Without any further ado, let’s dive straight in to 7 effective hacks that will help you craft the perfect to do list:

(i) Understand your work and lifestyle

This is the preliminary step to be taken care of before commencing anything. A moment of self-analysis, is always essential to comprehend what suits your lifestyle and what doesn’t. To give an example, my lifestyle is a typical 9 to 5 lifestyle. I have seen many YouTube videos wherein many YouTubers promote waking up at like 9 or 10am and then prepping their list. I am not saying that’s wrong. Hats totally justified in their case, mainly because of their lifestyle. They are single and independent women who don’t have a boatload of a responsibilities. On the other hand, if you look at a woman who is a wife and a mother, her to do lists will be completely off the hook and nothing compared to that of someone who is living by themselves. You get it right? The sideline is that, your to do lists should be formulated and tailor made just for you.

(ii) Carve out your priorities

It is very easy to come up with an idea of “Oh I wanna create and stick by a to do list”. But so much of work needs to be done before finding out your priorities and something that you would like to achieve. But mind you, there is a thin line of difference between priorities and goals. Your to do lists should only encompass tasks and not goals. But little wins are definitely appreciated.

If your priority is to find more time in your day for health and fitness, your to-do list might include things like waking up 30 minutes early to meditate, hitting the gym at 6am and so on.

(iii) Don’t make the list too long

The intention of you creating a list is to help you serve as a roadmap so that you don’t get lost. But on the other hand, if you create a list too long that eventually leads to you feeling overwhelmed and ultimately preventing you to even to take a look at it. Once your priorities are sorted, do a sprint. As in check in with each tasks with its sense of urgency. The most urgent task can be done first.

(iv) Be specific with details

“Don’t let your to-do list morph into a blob list” Paul Rulkens, president of Agrippa Consulting International. “A blob is a vague, undefined, and unclear action,” he says. “Any action on your to-do-list must therefore have a very specific outcome.”

It is advisable to write down tasks in this specific way

· Create 3 info graphics for Instagram today

· Drink 8 glasses of water before dusk

· Do 20 pushups in 3 minutes.

When the tasks are broken down into smaller chunks, it gives us a sense of action ability and we are inspired to persuade it nonetheless.

(v) Eat the dirty Frog first

We must confide our mindset in such a way that hard tasks are to be done first. While you pick up the dirty frog first thing in the morning, you have tons of zany energy in you that you feel great in commencing things on a fresh note.

While doing easy things can give you a sign of accomplishment, they may also be a form of procrastination. When you do the easy stuff and have no time for the hard things, you let fear take control of your emotions. Putting unimportant stuff at the top of to-do list is an excuse to not to get to hard stuff.

Hence, it is always advised to keep your most difficult tasks at the beginning of the list.

(vi) Allocate time for communication and breaks

Always make it a point to note that, all of your tasks are time bound and not off track. It is always a better idea to set aside a good 30 minutes either for a short break or a good 1 hour to respond to emails, conversations and DMs. In this way, you don’t need to feel guilty about these nuances, because it is a part of your to do list.

(vii) Calendar your to-do list

Once you have your five tasks for the day, take out your calendar (write it down all the way if you are like me – I love criss crossing off a completed task) or open whatever applications you use and schedule your tasks into your day.

There is something so satisfying about knowing exactly when you are going to do a task and how long it will take. Putting your tasks into your calendar also enables you to block out this time – no interruptions allowed!

Some of my recommendations if you are into a smart era are Notion, Todoist, Google tasks and Habitica etc….

Well, that’s it folks!

I hope you enjoy reading this as much I enjoyed writing it. Do let me know in the comments your favorite takeaway from the same.

Happy planning!!

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