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Being more productive can be as simple as creating a great to do list. You aren’t going anywhere if you don’t have a road map, and your to do list is the map to get you to your destination without taking all of those unplanned pit stops. But creating the perfect list can be tricky if you don’t have great to do list examples to follow.
I have long struggled with productivity due to my good friend “Procrastination”. I always think of myself as a motivated self-starter, and I definitely am. But my Enneagram personality number is a 7, which means I am prone to start projects and then get distracted with the next new thing. For me, there is an argument to be made that every task is priority #1.
You may be in that same boat, or you may be a type that can’t get started until you have a plan. The type of person who follows every step of the IKEA furniture instructions to a T.
Whatever your personality type – having a good to do list is an essential part of productivity success. And since we all have an insane amount of things to get done daily, I want to help you created the perfect to do list.
Below I am sharing my best to do list examples to set you up to have the most productive week ever. There is even a printable that you can use to guide you through making your own to do list using the tactics I describe below. Just print it out and stick it in your planner and be on your way to getting all the things done!
THE BEST TO DO LIST EXAMPLES AND TIPS
List your “Top 3” – Write down your top 3 tasks at the top of the list and call them out. Use a highlighter or write them on a post it note or even add stickers if you want to – just make sure that your eye is drawn to those three tasks.
Keep it simple – Don’t let your list run on. There should be a max of 10 items on your to do daily. Anything after that is going to add clutter and you are less likely to make progress becuase there are too many things competing for your attention.
Make it actionable – Write things down in a way that calls you to action. Instead of writing “dry cleaners” make it “drop clothes at dry cleaners”. Part of the battle in actually getting things done, is knowing that you have a direction. Just the small shift of you brain not having to recal “what was I supposed to do at the dry cleaners?” will be able to allow you to feel more confident that you can indeed cross that item off your list.
Break it down – If you have some big items that you are working on, try to break them down as much as possible, especially if this is a project that will take multiple days. So instead of making “Repaint Kitchen Cabinets” as one of your top three tasks, break that down in to multiple steps that you can work on over the course of several days.
Example: Unhinge kitchen cabinets, Sand down cabinet doors, Paint 1st coat on cabinets, Paint 2 coat on cabinets, Rehang cabinets. You are much more likely to make progress if you have given yourself a road map to success.
Set Time Limits – I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a deadline, I can procrastinate big time. Or I can get totally lost in a task and let it take way longer than I intended. Once you have written out your to-do list, do yourself a big favor and add in the time you think it will take to complete it.
This will also help you schedule your day. You can add these into your planner and schedule specific times for you to work on those items. And remember, when the time is up, its up! You can always add it to your to-do list tomorrow if you need to wrap things up.
Be Flexible – Your to do list is just a guideline to help you be more productive. But obviously things are going to change. That big chunk of time that you thought you would get to spend checking emails, my be taken up by a last minute doctor trip with a sick kid. You can always move items around or postpone them for another day. It is your to-do list, so make it work for you!
Make time to write it down – None, of these tips are going to end up being helpful if you don’t actually take the time to write down your to-do list. I always take the last 10 minutes (maybe even just 5 minutes) of the work day to write down my tasks for the following day.
If it works better for you to do it first thing in the morning – great! More of an evening planner? That is awesome too! Just make sure you find a time that you can stick to routinely and make sure writing down your to-do list becomes a part of your routine.
Keep it close – Post your to-do list somewhere you can see it throughout the day. I keep mine in my Simplified Planner (I use the weekly version) and I have that planner on my desk all day long. That way I can cross things off the list as I complete them.