What if I told that you that you are using your task lists ineffectively?
Would that surprise you? Lots of people use task lists every day, but I’d wager plenty of them are going about it the wrong way. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that they don’t even complete their task lists most of the time.
Are you one of them?
Well you don’t have to be. With a few simple tweaks to how you approach your task lists, we can make it so you finish your task lists each and every time.
Maximizing your task list productivity
Here’s what it probably looks like when you set out to complete a task list:
- You take out a piece of paper
- You write down 5+ things you want done
- You write those tasks in vague terms (e.g. find a babysitter, look for a new suit)
- You do them in random order, with no prioritization
- You add new tasks as they arrive
- You don’t finish the list, and still have important things to do on it
Lots of people tackle their tasks lists just like this, even though it’s ineffective. But we can move this past this ineffectiveness by using 5 tips that’ll improve your task list usage and maximize your productivity.
5 different ways to maximize your task list usage
1. Prioritize your tasks
A good task list should have some order to it. You can do this by thinking about what tasks you really need done that day, and putting them at the top of your task list. Each one below it should be slightly less important than the one above it.
By using this pattern you ensure that you only do the most important tasks each and every day.
2. Keep your tasks short, specific, and actionable
Each task should be written in a very simple and actionable way, for example:
Bad – Clean the living room
Good – Vacuum floor, spray and wipe down desktop, organize table, etc.
See the difference?
There’s no confusion as to what should be done, you just do it. Doing this reduces delay as you don’t need to think about what needs to be done, and it also helps prevent procrastination.
3. Limit the amount of tasks per day
This tip might be kind of hard for some of you, but it’s crucial for making an effective task list –
Keep your task lists at 5 or less tasks per day.
Why? Doing so ensures that you only do the most necessary tasks every day, and prevents new tasks from taking up your precious task slots since you’re only allowed 5 per day.
What you should do with any other tasks (like ones that popup suddenly) is add them to an “eventually do” task list. If any of them are important enough, they’ll make it into your daily task list.
4. Over estimate how long each task will take
As a general rule, everything takes longer than you think it will.
If you want to finally start completing your task lists, then this is something you need to keep in mind. There’s always going to be distractions you can’t account for, and the time they use really adds up at the end of the day.
So to be safe, double the amount of time you think every task will take. It’s okay if it doesn’t take that long, you’ll just end up with more time at the end of the day.
5. Focus on only one task at a time
This tip is important for maintaining the limited willpower you have to work with.
How so? Think about a task list with 15+ items on it, doesn’t it feel daunting just imagining it? It kind of makes you think “agh, so much to do!”
Now think of a task list with only a single task. Easy, right? You don’t feel that “resistance” you feel with the longer task list, which makes it much easier to approach.
Each time you look at a full task list you feel resistance, but if you only let one task occupy your mind at a time, you can conserve enough willpower to push through to the end of the day and finally complete your task list.
Over to you
Do you guys use task lists? How so? Do use them differently then the way I’ve listed? Let us know, because it’s great to find new ways to be productive 🙂