In our previous post, we delved into three key features of a good time management effort: knowing how you are spending your time, transforming your activities and changing the way you do things.
In the second part of our series, I’m going to teach you a time-tested method of creating beautiful order in an otherwise chaotic world. This method is so simple, absolutely anyone can start using it today.
What is this excellent time management tool?
The technique I’m talking about is list-making and its simplicity is actually the basis of its power as a time management tool. People who are already strapped for time need techniques that are easy to implement. Nothing is simpler and easier than building to-do lists!
Simple Guidelines for Maximum Results
Below are some pro tips for building accomplishable and realistic to-do lists:
You can list as many things as you want in your main to-do list as this will be used as a resource for the two other lists I’m going to mention in a moment. The second to-do list is your day list.
The day list contains all the items that need to be given attention today.
All of the most urgent items in your main to-do list should be put in your day list, especially deadlines and stuff that you weren’t able to accomplish in the past.
The third and final list is the future list. The future list should contain the things you have to accomplish in the following weeks or months. If something needs to be accomplished 2 weeks from now, write it down in your future list so you won’t clutter your day list.
Your main to-do list was designed to be a general list so you can assign items to their proper sub-lists. You will also be able to write down the time and date for each of the items before transferring them to your day list and future list.
It would also help if you marked certain tasks with E1 or E2. E1 means “super easy! – will not take more than 10 minutes” while E2 stands for “enjoyable task!”. You can create more notations if you want, if they will help you stay motivated in accomplishing your tasks.
However, I would warn against using this list for procrastination. Having a long future list doesn’t mean you’re getting organized or you’re managing your time well. It just means you have a list of tasks. It’s what you do after making your to-do lists that truly matter.
Where can you create your lists?
If you’re a little old-fashioned like me, you may prefer to physically write down your to-do items on a journal.
If you’re planning to write things down on paper, I suggest that you use a monthly planner as an extension of your future list to stay organized. It can be difficult to keep track of items on your future list if you can’t see the days or weeks that lead up to each deadline.
Now, I also know that not everyone likes keeping journals and notebooks around.
If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can download organization apps like Any.Do, Clear and other to-do list programs on iTunes or Google Play. There are also other app centers available on the Internet such as the Opera Mobile Market which you can explore.
A good to-do app should allow you to make an unlimited number of to-do items complete with sub-lists. You should also be able to add a time and date for each item that you need to complete.
Some apps allow task sharing through email and through an in-app messaging system, but these aren’t as essential as the first set of features I mentioned. If you don’t want to download another app, check out your current calendar app to see if it has a list feature.