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4 Steps to Manage Your To-Do List

All to-dos were not created equal! Use the 1-2-3-D method of prioritizing your to-do list. 1 = top priority, 2 = important but not urgent, 3 = rainy day task, D = delegate to someone else.

Cross tasks off your list using these tips to maximize productivity!

Most of us have some form of to-do list, whether it’s notes we keep on our phone, a list we keep on the computer, or a good old-fashioned notepad. To-do lists in and of themselves are not effective scheduling tools. They’re great for capturing ideas as they come up, but they’re not effective for actually getting them done. That’s because there is no associated time with each of the individual tasks. Instead it’s a kind of nebulous, limbo state for these tasks—“I need to get to them but I’m not sure when. They’re hanging over my head—and they’re stressing me out!” We need to utilize our to-do lists more effectively in order to actually get them done.

Centralize. The first step in managing your to-do’s is to centralize them. If you’ve got them in multiple pieces now, take a few minutes and put them all on one master to-do list. That way you can get a better lay of the land of what is in front of you. When you create a master to-do list, make sure it’s in a format that is easy to take with you wherever you might go. So if you know you’re the type of person who will never carry a notebook with you, you might want to look for a small pocket book or maybe something that can live on your phone.

Prioritize. Once you have all of your to-do’s in one central spot, it’s time to prioritize them so you can effectively schedule them. I like to use a system called 1-2-3-D. Next to each of your to-dos on your list, write the number 1 for the things that you must do—and soon. Write a number 2 for the things that need to be done, but not right away. And write a 3 for things that you’d like to do someday, but it won’t be the end of the world if they don’t get done anytime soon. Finally, write a D next to the items that you know right away could be delegated to someone else—whether it’s someone on your team, a virtual assistant, or someone that you’re planning on hiring at some point in the future.

Prioritizing your tasks in this way makes it much easier to schedule them. As you look down your list and you’re writing in the 1s, 2s, 3s, and Ds, try to be ruthless about what things might not be that important after all. We often tend to associate equal level of importance with all of our to-dos, when in reality things just don’t work that way. There are always going to be some things that are more important or more pressing than others.

Estimate. Now that you’ve prioritized your tasks, there is one additional step before you can actually schedule them to be completed. In the column next to each of the tasks, write down how long you think each task will take to actually complete. This is another key thing that is missing from most to-do lists—the estimate of how long a task will take. When we don’t estimate how long we think something will take to do, there is no way to effectively schedule it. Just having a list of things that you need to do during the course of a business day isn’t enough, especially if you’ve packed it so full of things that they could never actually be completed.

Schedule. Once you’ve estimated how long each of your tasks will take and you’ve prioritized them, you’ll know not only which tasks you need to schedule first but how much time they will take. Start by taking your #1s and plug them into the associated time blocks [LINK TO TIME BLOCK POST] on your calendar (production time, marketing time, or administrative time). Since you already have time blocked out for each of these types of tasks, you can simply take the tasks from your to-do list and plug them into the corresponding time block on your calendar.

Once you’ve plugged the #1s into your schedule, move on to the #2s; if there are spare moments or time blocks left over, plug in the #3s or give yourself a break. You’ll also want to schedule yourself a little time for delegating tasks if that is something you’re planning on doing. Anytime you delegate a task, it still requires some of your time to manage the process.

If you’re wondering how to implement these strategies, we’d be happy to chat with you. Contact us for a complimentary “Eliminate the Chaos” strategy session by going to http://www.customlivingsolutions.com/advice

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