Who doesn’t love to feel organised, efficient and productive?! If you’re on this blog I’m guessing you love a productivity hack or two, and in my book nothing is better than a good old fashioned to-do list to take you from “oops, I just spent my day watching multiple episodes of Friends and now it’s over”, to “done, done, and done!” Here are my top tips for cranking your to-do list up a notch:
Find your number
It can be tempting to write a week’s worth of to-dos on your list in the hope that you’ll somehow knock it out of the park and tick every single one off in a day, but in the end this will only overwhelm you. Many of us have a few too many tasks on our list anyway, so look back at your old lists and figure out if you have been finishing everything or if you tend to carry things over to the next day. Find the optimum number of tasks for you (for example Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine sticks with 6 big things a day) and never try to outsmart the list and do more – if you finish early, just relax!
Have your priority tasks set
Not all tasks are equal, and there will usually be at least one standout task that you MUST finish, or are at least hoping to finish before the end of the day, above everything else. Choose your priorities in advance, think about the time of day when you work at your most efficient level, and schedule this important task in for the correct time. This will mean you are giving it the best chance of being completed. You can use our Best Day Ever printable (free download) to do exactly this!
Write your list the night before
The morning is, for many people, when procrastinating is at its worst because we don’t often feel like hitting the ground running, and instead will look for menial tasks to put off what’s most important. So, writing your list the night before allows you to a) set intentions for the day that are both realistic and relevant, and b) get up the next morning with clear goals that you can get started on straight away. It’s like having your past self be the boss of your future self, which is kinda cool.
Sneak in an easy one
If you want to make yourself feel instantly productive in the morning, I love including an easy task that doesn’t take long and is somewhat fun to complete. You can then tick it off first thing and get bitten by the productivity bug enough that you’ll want to continue your streak. This won’t work for everyone, but if you’re like me and your brain is easily manipulated, then I’m just saying… #itworks
Be super specific about your tasks
There’s no point in adding “write and edit my new eBook” to your list, because realistically this won’t be done in a day unless your eBook is 100 words long. Be clear and specific about your intentions, so instead of big, intimidating tasks, add things like “write a first draft structure for my new eBook” or “spend 30 minutes thinking of possible names for my new eBook”. These are bite-sized chunks that can actually be achieved by the end of the day.
Add time limits
Again this one isn’t for everyone, but I love it. If you work on regularly recurring tasks, I recommend gauging how long these take you and adding a time limit for them going forward. Even better, use a Pomodoro Timer to make sure you get them finished in an efficient way. If something goes over the limit you can arrange a pocket of time to finish it later in the day.
Schedule in self-care too
Being productive is great as long as burnout isn’t rearing its ugly head, so don’t forget to also schedule in something fun or relaxing that you want to do each day. Whether you’re into yoga, meditation, walking, playing games or reading to relax, you should always be making time for the things that will help to recharge your brain. So often they become the very last priority on our list, so use tools like our Best Week Ever printable (free download) with its sections specifically dedicated to self-care, to ensure it becomes a top priority for you once again.
I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading books and blogs about optimising my productivity for years, and I love finding new resources that will help me get a handle on my often-out-of-control to-do list. I could never find exactly what I was looking for though, which is why I’ve been busy creating helpful printable planners which cater to those who want more organisation and balance in their life. I launched them on our shop today – and they’re all free! Grab your free planner here and enjoy.