Sometimes, the classic methods and simple list hacks are all you need to increase your productivity. So today, we won’t talk about any productivity programs or applications; we will simply focus on how to make the good ol’ paper to-do list and how to make it effective for you.
1. Scratch That!
One retro take on making that good ol’ list is to divide a piece of paper into three sections. The first section should comprise the biggest part of the page; this is where you’ll list everything you need to do in a day.
For the second section, leave at least a 1.5 inch vertical space on the rightmost part of your page and divide it into eight parts going down. This is where you’ll write down the tasks you’ve completed. The eight parts represent eight hours of your working day.
For the last section, leave a small part below the first section. This is where you’ll put the summary of your day’s work.
The best part of this method is scratching off the tasks you’ve done one by one. Seriously, nothing makes you feel more fulfilled and productive than scratching those to-do-list until your whole page is full of ink scratches. This means you’ve had a very productive day.
2. Scratch That for the Procrastinators
This second method works together with the first; you simply follow the same format. However, this is an extra hack to make you more focused on the task at hand (just to prevent you from procrastinating).
What you need to do is get a plain piece of paper and stick a tape on top of it. Start by covering the #2 task all the way down your list, making the #1 task the only thing visible. This will keep you more focused on completing that initial task. And it also feels great going down that list scratching off the previous task and revealing what’s next.
3. Small Tasks
When preparing a list, make sure that you break down the big tasks into smaller ones. Seeing that big task on your list can be overwhelming, which can cause you to procrastinate more. How can you measure a big task? If it will take you at least 2 hours to complete that task, then it’s a big one. Making a to-do-list with smaller tasks will make it more manageable.
4. Think About Your To-Do List
The thing with making a to-do list (by the way, check this top to-do list tools comparison) is that you tend to put every single task on your list, without even thinking if you should be really doing it or not right then and there. When you write your to-do-list, you have to decide as well.
Is this something that you need to do today? Is this something you can just delegate to someone who can complete it faster? Is this something you can defer doing for another day or two? Or is this something that you really need to do as it will add value to your project?
Your time is valuable, so make use of it properly.
5. Group Tasks
Having a list with tasks scattered all over the place will just make you more confused on what’s needed to be done. Remember, you’re making a list to keep things organized. So, another list hack you can do is group similar tasks or tasks with something in common. This way you can focus on a group of the same tasks as opposed to doing them separately throughout the day. This will get things done a lot faster.
6. Aggressive Deadlines
To push you to work faster on completing your to-do list, set a more aggressive deadline for yourself. If you have to submit task #1 in 2 hours, try completing it in an hour or an hour and a half. Having this mindset will make you work hard to complete the task. Sometimes, the right pressure is good to push you. Meeting deadlines is awesome, but completing tasks before the deadline is much more awesome.
What do you think of our simple list-hacks? Quite easy to do and follow, right? Most often, going simple is the best way to do the job.
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