Advertise with us

Enjoying this blog? Check out the rest of the Business Channel Subscribe to this Feed

Pimp Your Work

7 tips to making a squeaky clean to-do list

by Celine on October 8th, 2007

Writing a great to-do list is both a science and an art.  It’s a science because there’s a bit of experimenting and testing involved, and an art because you inject your personal style into your to-do list system.  Plus, you can make things look pretty, if you want.  For those who don’t have a finely tuned to-do list approach, this post collects some helpful tips.  If you’re a master listmaker, feel free to add your own tips and suggestions in the comments.

1.  Apply the ultimate work pimp.  I’m a descendant from a long line of Pimp Your Work bloggers.  From them I have inherited this ultimate rule: do what works for you.  This is something you should never forget when working on your to-do list system.  You may learn about different methods from other people, but if they don’t seem to work for you, don’t force it.  Everyone has their own work pimp style, and you should find yours.

2. Break down tasks into the simplest action possible.  You don’t just write down “fix resume” - that’s a little vague.  Instead, break down the project into more manageable tasks such as “research resume writing tips” and “include information about so-and-so seminar”.  This way, nothing will get left out and any major tasks won’t seem so overwhelming.

3.  Separate tasks into categories.  Some tasks are urgent, meaning you need them done as soon as possible.  Others are simply important, meaning that you need to get them done, but not immediately. Other tasks are neither.  Obviously, you have to get to the urgent stuff first, then the important stuff.  The tasks that are neither important nor urgent should be at the bottom of your list.  By prioritizing, you can make sure that you’ll have enough time for the important and urgent tasks.

4. Turn it into a habit.  Make sure you do it daily and don’t break the chain. If you don’t have a regular to-do list, it’d be much easier for you to slip into the dark void of disorganization all over again.

5.  Create an estimated time limit for each task.  Only applicable to tasks that take more than 15 to 30 minutes.  Otherwise, you’re just being obsessive compulsive.  Short time estimates may work for you if your schedule is tight and needs to run like clockwork.  But if you’re an average person, odds are you don’t need that kind of micro-attention to your tasks.  Simply estimate how many hours or half-hours a task will take so that you’ll know if you can squeeze them all into your day.  Don’t force a 36-hour tasklist on a 24-hour day.  That can be frustrating.

6. Experiment with different to-do list software. Personally, I use ToDoList by Abstract Spoon.  However, there are probably hundreds of listmaking tools out there.  If you spend a lot of time on your computer, you should try some out and pick one that works for you.  More importantly, use it in the way that you need it.  For example, I don’t use ToDoList for my daily tasks - just for big projects.  For my daily tasks, I need something portable, so I write my to do list on a notebook or index card that I carry around my pocket all day. If you only want to put work-related tasks on your to-do list software, that’s perfectly fine.

7.  Don’t overstuff your to-do list.  Really, there are just some things that don’t belong there. Web Worker Daily wrote about the 4 things that shouldn’t be on your to-do list.  Go over it and apply accordingly.

POSTED IN: General work pimps

0 opinions for 7 tips to making a squeaky clean to-do list

  • No one has left a comment yet. You know what this means, right? You could be first!

Have an opinion? Leave a comment:

Site Meter
E-mail It